A person in a dream co-authored a math paper

I don't understand the 1985 paper, "Higher Algebraic K-Theory of Schemes and of Derived Categories [PDF]," by Robert Wayne Thomason and Thomas Trobaugh. But Thomason's introduction is fascinating. He says the paper was co-written by a simulacrum of his late friend Thomas Trobaugh who appeared in Thomason's dreams.

The first author must state that his coauthor and close friend, Tom Trobaugh, quite intelligent, singularly original, and inordinately generous, killed himself consequent to endogenous depression. Ninety-four days later, in my dream, Tom's simulacrum remarked, "The direct limit characterization of perfect complexes shows that they extend, just as one extends a coherent sheaf." Awakening with a start, I knew this idea has to be wrong, since some perfect complexes have a non-vanishing K0 obstruction to extension. I had worked on the problem for 3 years, and saw this approach to be hopeless. But Tom's simulacrum had been so insistent, I knew he wouldn't let me sleep undisturbed until I had worked out the argument and could point to the gap. This work quickly led to the key results of this paper. To Tom, I could have explained why he must be listed as a coauthor.

[via Milk and Cigarettes]

[image: IAS]