"The Briefest Abstract Award" Goes to …

Lawrence Christiano, Martin Eichenbaum, and Sergio Rebelo, for their new NBER working paper titled “When Is the Government Spending Multiplier Large?”

The abstract: “When the nominal interest rate is constant.”

Is this the only academic paper ever written where the total number of letters of the abstract (36) is less than the number of letters in either the title (42) or the authors’ names (46)?

I believe this is what is meant by “asked and answered.”

Here’s a PDF of an earlier draft, albeit with a slightly longer abstract.


I believe the Briefest Movie Review award goes to Leonard Maltin's review of "Isn't it Romantic?", which consisted simply of the word "No."

Eric M. Jones

My coins usually wind up in jelly jars until I can get to a machine to turn them into electronic credits.

On the eve of everything going electronic anyway...I note that I would be embarassed to leave a waitress (or anyone else who gets a tip) anything less than a dollar bill. If they give me coins in change I leave them on the counter for them to throw back into the till.

So NO we don't need a 37-cent coin, or any coins. Many nations have faced a situation where most of their coinage was worth less than the scrap metal price. So shall we.


In the theory of optimal control, there is a very famous and important counter-example that was published by John Doyle in the late 1970's:

J. Doyle, "Guaranteed margins for LQG regulators", IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, 23:4, 756-757, (1978)

Abstract: "There are none."

The article in it's entirety was 1.5 columns of text. Google Scholar reports 300+ citations.


Is there a point in reading the rest of the paper, then?
Only if you need details.


Now, "When is the nominal interest rate constant?"


(I'm betting when goverment spending is low.)


There's a working paper in physics by Hajdukovic and Satz called "Does the Ising Model in an External Field Show Intermittency?"
The abstract used to be
but it is changed into a phrase.

Peter Norvig

Maltin was tied by Ginsberg and Geddis, whose 1991 paper
"Is there any need for domain-dependent control information?" had the abstract "No"


Is this the only academic paper …. less than the number of letters in either the title (42) or the authors' names (46) OR THE NUMBER OF PAGES (55)?

Morgan Page

There is a famous example in my field, seismology:


Is the sequence of earthquakes in Southern California, with aftershocks removed, Poissonian?



J. K. Gardner and L. Knopoff. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America; October 1974; v. 64; no. 5; p. 1363-1367


The abstract for "What are our standards for validation of measurement-based networking research?" by Balachander Krishnamurthy and Walter Willinger, which appeared in HotMetrics 2008, is:
"Standards? What standards?"

Michael Levin

What about Fisher's paper for the Cowles Commission, "Can Stock Market Forecasters Forecast?" with the abstract "It is doubtful."

Porag Choudhury

Does the 'shortest' answer your questions, at least minimally?

-Not always, not necessarily.


This paper should be ineligible for the shortest abstract award, because there isn't a real abstract, just a title continuation in the abstract field. This entry is not the summary the abstract is supposed to be.

science minded

Dear Craig;

If I am understanding your objective- here goes. As you may well aleady know, I have given too much thought to the title of my book and relatively little to this abstract. Perhaps that's good. I have had no time to reconsider.

The title--

Recalling Sociology, Rethinking Social Science

The Paradigm Shift That The Law of Relativity Requires

Summary Statement

Account of Our Enterprise-- The Roundabout Way In Which It Was Discovered

science minded

Dear Craig;

The title–

Recalling Sociology, Rethinking Social Science

The Paradigm Shift That The Law of Relativity Requires

Summary Statement

Account of Our Enterprise– The Roundabout Way In Which It Was Discovered

copyright 2009 Robyn Ann Goldstein

PS. Thanks. Really.

science minded

Dear Eric;

I have noticed lately the need that coins serve--particular quarters.

This is a joint NY and NJ moment as far as I know. But lately, when parking my car and not having change of a dollar available, I ask a stranger for change. And what do I get, the gift of a quarter. This happened to me on a number of occasions and the last time someone asked me for a quarter, I found myself freely offering and feeling that sense of humanity which comes from giving. So while it is true that there is another side to this story, the understanding of what such a simple act accomplishes- prompts me to be a bit more optimistic about our future--just a bit..

Robyn (with a y) Goldstein

Whether y'all know it or not, I am not the only Robyn Goldstein. There's another. His name is Robin Goldstein. And his' specialty is wine. That is not me. It's kind of funny knowing of someone of the opposite sex with the same first name (differently spelled) and last name. There's a word for that. What can I say--my parents probably wanted a boy or maybe they might have had one first (lost in a miscarriage)--they got a girl-- a survivor. I guess that's why!

Allison Mankin

FWIW, let me point to what has to be the briefest abstract in academia. John Doyle, Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems, Electrical Engineering and BioMedical Systems at Caltech, wrote it. The paper's title is: Guaranteed Margins for LGQ Regulators. The abstract is: "There are none."

Citation: IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, August 1978, Volume 23, Issue 4.

Allison Mankin

Oops, should have read the other comments to see someone else already posted John's abstract and a shorter one...