# Why do I credit Chaitin?

When discussing Algorithmic Information Theory,
I credit Chaitin, largely because I am most familiar with his work.

In more detail:

- He is one of the creators of Algorithmic Information Theory, along with several others.
- He has worked extensively in the field (it is his life's work).
- He has spread the word tirelessly (which is why I first encountered his work).
- He emphasizes the philosophical implications (especially "Computer Epistemology"),
which are my primary interest.
- He sounds very honest in his history of AIT, crediting others (including Leibniz!),
while highlighting his own and others' errors.

## History of AIT

From what I gather about AIT, Solomonoff did the earliest work,
Chaitin has done the most work, and Kolmogorov is over-credited:
he's a great mathematician, but he apparently contributed little to AIT
(seeing it as relatively insignificant foundations of probability)
and attaching his name to the field is an egregious example of the Matthew Effect.

Notably, Li and Vitanyi, in "An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity" (p.84),
explain their use of Kolmogorov's name in "Kolmogorov complexity" as an example
of the Matthew Effect.
This seems to be a misunderstanding: as I understand it,
the Matthew Effect is seen as a *bad* thing:
a minor contributor over-credited for their seniority.

Chaitin gives a history of AIT in
The Unknowable, chapter 6;
in it, he credits Solomonoff with the insight that algorithmic complexity quantifies
Occam's razor (but Solomonoff doesn't see that it allows one to define randomness).
On Kolmogorov, Chaitin writes:
"As far as I know, Kolmogorov only publishes 3 or 4 pages on program-size complexity".

## Why this apologia?

Chaitin is a figure of some controversy in math. Notably:

- He is seen by some as an egotist.
- His suggestion that the Riemann Hypothesis be adopted as an axiom
is disliked by many (myself included: why not just call it a "working assumption"?).
- His advocacy of a quasi-empirical approach to math is similarly disliked
(as in T. Tymoczko, New Directions in the Philosophy of Mathematics, Princeton University Press, 1998.).

Thus, I feel a need to explain my respect and praise for him.