Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Haldane Papers   posted by DavidB @ 11/21/2006 04:57:00 AM

I think I once complained that there is no good collection of J. B. S. Haldane's technical papers in genetics (as distinct from his popular articles). If I did, I retract the complaint, as I find that there is already a very good collection: Selected genetics papers of J. B. S. Haldane, edited with an introduction by Krishna R. Dronamraju, Garland Publishing, NY, 1990. This is a big book (over 500 pages), containing most of Haldane's classic papers on the Mathematical Theory of Natural and Artificial Selection, and many others. Incidentally, it is sometimes said that these classic papers are 'reprinted' in an Appendix to Haldane's book The Causes of Evolution (1932), but this is hardly accurate. The Appendix contains only a brief summary of Haldane's main findings.

I must also retract another complaint. In a post on Haldane's Dilemma I said that there was a misprint in one of the formulae in Haldane's 1957 paper on the 'Cost of Natural Selection': a vital division stroke appeared to be omitted. I was therefore interested to see that in the reprint of the paper in Dronamraju's collection the division stroke is present where it should be. At first I thought that this must be an editorial correction, but this seemed odd because the reprint appeared to be a photographic copy. So I looked up the original printed version of the paper (in Journal of Genetics 1957), and found that the division stroke was there all along.

My error arose from relying on a pdf copy of Haldane's paper on the internet (see link in my earlier post). In the pdf file there is no trace whatever of the division stroke - not a single pixel - even at the highest magnification. So I am gratified to find that I was correct to find an error in the formula as it appeared in the pdf copy, but alarmed to find that a seemingly good pdf copy can be unreliable in this way. It is puzzling because other division strokes in the same paper have come out clearly enough.