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ArXiv web.svg
Type of site
Available in English
Owner Cornell University
Created by Paul Ginsparg
Alexa rank Increase 3,547 (as of September 2016)[1] (Increase25) 1,724 (Global Rank) (as of 29th March 2017)[1]
Commercial No
Launched August 14, 1991; 25 years ago (1991-08-14)
Current status Online
ISSN 2331-8422
OCLC number 228652809

The arXiv (pronounced "archive")[2] is a repository of electronic preprints, known as e-prints, of scientific papers in the fields of mathematics, physics, astronomy, computer science, quantitative biology, statistics, and quantitative finance, which can be accessed online. In many fields of mathematics and physics, almost all scientific papers are self-archived on the arXiv repository. Begun on August 14, 1991, passed the half-million article milestone on October 3, 2008,[3][4] and hit a million by the end of 2014.[5][6] By 2014 the submission rate had grown to more than 8,000 per month.[6][7]


A screenshot of the arXiv taken in 1994, using the browser NCSA Mosaic. At the time, HTML forms were a new technology.

The arXiv was made possible by the low-bandwidth TeX file format, which allowed scientific papers to be easily transmitted over the Internet and rendered client-side.[8] Around 1990, Joanne Cohn began emailing physics preprints to colleagues as TeX files, but the number of papers being sent soon filled mailboxes to capacity. Paul Ginsparg recognized the need for central storage, and in August 1991 he created a central repository mailbox stored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory which could be accessed from any computer. Additional modes of access were soon added: FTP in 1991, Gopher in 1992, and the World Wide Web in 1993.[6][9] The term e-print was quickly adopted to describe the articles.

It began as a physics archive, called the LANL preprint archive, but soon expanded to include astronomy, mathematics, computer science, nonlinear science, quantitative biology and, most recently, statistics. Its original domain name was Due to LANL's lack of interest in the rapidly expanding technology, in 1999 Ginsparg changed institutions to Cornell University and changed the name of the repository to[10] It is now hosted principally by Cornell, with 8 mirrors around the world.[11]

Its existence was one of the precipitating factors that led to the current movement in scientific publishing known as open access. Mathematicians and scientists regularly upload their papers to for worldwide access[12] and sometimes for reviews before they are published in peer-reviewed journals. Ginsparg was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002 for his establishment of arXiv.

The annual budget for arXiv is approximately $826,000 for 2013 to 2017, funded jointly by Cornell University Library, the Simons Foundation (in both gift and challenge grant forms) and annual fee income from member institutions.[13] This model arose in 2010, when Cornell sought to broaden the financial funding of the project by asking institutions to make annual voluntary contributions based on the amount of download usage by each institution. Annual donations were envisaged to vary in size between $2,300 to $4,000, based on each institution’s usage. As of 14 January 2014, 174 institutions have pledged support for the period 2013–2017 on this basis, with a projected revenue from this source of approximately $340,000.[14]

In September 2011, Cornell University Library took overall administrative and financial responsibility for arXiv's operation and development. Ginsparg was quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying it "was supposed to be a three-hour tour, not a life sentence".[15] However, Ginsparg remains on the arXiv Scientific Advisory Board and on the arXiv Physics Advisory Committee.

Peer review[edit]

Although the arXiv is not peer reviewed, a collection of moderators for each area review the submissions; they may recategorize any that are deemed off-topic,[16] or reject submissions that are not scientific papers. The lists of moderators for many sections of the arXiv are publicly available,[17] but moderators for most of the physics sections remain unlisted.

Additionally, an "endorsement" system was introduced in 2004 as part of an effort to ensure content is relevant and of interest to current research in the specified disciplines.[18] Under the system, for categories that use it, an author must be endorsed by an established arXiv author before being allowed to submit papers to those categories. Endorsers are not asked to review the paper for errors, but to check whether the paper is appropriate for the intended subject area.[16] New authors from recognized academic institutions generally receive automatic endorsement, which in practice means that they do not need to deal with the endorsement system at all. However, the endorsement system has attracted criticism for allegedly restricting scientific inquiry.[19]

A majority of the e-prints are also submitted to journals for publication, but some work, including some very influential papers, remain purely as e-prints and are never published in a peer-reviewed journal. A well-known example of the latter is an outline of a proof of Thurston's geometrization conjecture, including the Poincaré conjecture as a particular case, uploaded by Grigori Perelman in November 2002.[20] Perelman appears content to forgo the traditional peer-reviewed journal process, stating: "If anybody is interested in my way of solving the problem, it's all there [on the arXiv] – let them go and read about it".[21] Despite this non-traditional method of publication, other mathematicians recognized this work by offering the Fields Medal and Clay Mathematics Millennium Prizes to Perelman, both of which he refused.[22]

While the arXiv does contain some dubious e-prints, such as those claiming to refute famous theorems or proving famous conjectures such as Fermat's last theorem using only high-school mathematics, they are "surprisingly rare".[23][better source needed] The arXiv generally re-classifies these works, e.g. in "General mathematics", rather than deleting them.[24]

Submission formats[edit]

Papers can be submitted in any of several formats, including LaTeX, and PDF printed from a word processor other than TeX or LaTeX. The submission is rejected by the arXiv software if generating the final PDF file fails, if any image file is too large, or if the total size of the submission is too large. arXiv now allows one to store and modify an incomplete submission, and only finalize the submission when ready. The time stamp on the article is set when the submission is finalized.


The standard access route is through the website or one of several mirrors. Several other interfaces and access routes have also been created by other un-associated organisations. These include the University of California, Davis's front, a web portal that offers additional search functions and a more self-explanatory interface for, and is referred to by some mathematicians as (the) Front.[25] A similar function used to be offered by, launched in September 2006 by the Institute of Physics, and was switched off on June 30, 2014. Carnegie Mellon provides TablearXiv,[26] a search engine for tables extracted from arXiv publications. Google Scholar and Live Search Academic (now defunct) can also be used to search for items in arXiv.[27] A full text and author search engine for arXiv is provided by Scientillion.[28] Finally, researchers can select sub-fields and receive daily e-mailings or RSS feeds of all submissions in them.


Files on arXiv can have a number of different copyright statuses:[29]

  1. Some are public domain, in which case they will have a statement saying so.
  2. Some are available under either the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-ShareAlike license or the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license.
  3. Some are copyright to the publisher, but the author has the right to distribute them and has given arXiv a non-exclusive irrevocable license to distribute them.
  4. Most are copyright to the author, and arXiv has only a non-exclusive irrevocable license to distribute them.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b " Site Overview". Alexa Internet. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  2. ^ Steele, Bill (Fall 2012). "Library-managed 'arXiv' spreads scientific advances rapidly and worldwide". Ezra. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University. p. 9. OCLC 263846378. Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Pronounce it 'archive'. The X represents the Greek letter chi [ χ ]. 
  3. ^ Ginsparg, Paul (2011). "It was twenty years ago today ...". arXiv:1108.2700Freely accessible [cs.DL]. 
  4. ^ "Online Scientific Repository Hits Milestone: With 500,000 Articles, arXiv Established as Vital Library Resource". October 3, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ Vence, Tracy (December 29, 2014), "One Million Preprints and Counting: A conversation with arXiv founder Paul Ginsparg", The Scientist 
  6. ^ a b c Staff (January 13, 2015). "In the News: Open Access Journals". Drug Discovery & Development. 
  7. ^ "arXiv monthly submission rate statistics". Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ O'Connell, Heath (2000). "Physicists Thriving with Paperless Publishing". arXiv:physics/0007040Freely accessible. 
  9. ^ Paul Ginsparg "The global-village pioneers" Physics World October 1, 2008
  10. ^ Butler, Declan (July 5, 2001). "Los Alamos Loses Physics Archive as Preprint Pioneer Heads East". Nature. 412 (6842): 3–4. doi:10.1038/35083708. PMID 11452262. 
  11. ^ "arXiv mirror sites". arXiv. Archived from the original on August 10, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  12. ^ Glanz, James (May 1, 2001). "The World of Science Becomes a Global Village; Archive Opens a New Realm of Research". New York Times. 
  13. ^ "CORNELL UNIVERSITY LIBRARY ARXIV FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS FOR 2013-2017" (PDF). March 28, 2012. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  14. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Fischman, Joah (August 10, 2011). "The First Free Research-Sharing Site, arXiv, Turns 20 With an Uncertain Future". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b McKinney, Michelle (2011), "", Reference Reviews, 25 (7): 35–36, doi:10.1108/09504121111168622 
  17. ^ Computing Research Repository Subject Areas and Moderators; Mathematics categories; Statistics archive; Quantitative Biology archive; Physics archive
  18. ^ Ginsparg, Paul (2006), "As we may read", Journal of Neuroscience, 26 (38): 9606–9608, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3161-06.2006, PMID 16988030 
  19. ^ Greechie, Richard; Pulmannova, Sylvia; Svozil, Karl (July 2005), "Preface to the Proceedings of Quantum Structures 2002", International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 44 (7): 691–692, Bibcode:2005IJTP...44..691G, doi:10.1007/s10773-005-7053-z, The new endorsement system may contribute to an effective barrier, a digital divide 
  20. ^ Perelman, Grisha (November 11, 2002). "The entropy formula for the Ricci flow and its geometric applications". arXiv:math.DG/0211159Freely accessible [math.DG]. 
  21. ^ Nadejda Lobastova and Michael Hirst, "Maths genius living in poverty", Sydney Morning Herald, August 21, 2006
  22. ^ Kaufman, Marc (July 2, 2010), "Russian mathematician wins $1 million prize, but he appears to be happy with $0", Washington Post 
  23. ^ Jackson, Allyn (2002). "From Preprints to E-prints: The Rise of Electronic Preprint Servers in Mathematics" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society. 49 (1): 23–32. 
  24. ^ "Front: (In)frequently asked questions". Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Front for the arXiv". September 10, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  26. ^ "TablearXiv". Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  27. ^ Andy Stevens ( "eprintweb". eprintweb. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  28. ^ "eprintweb". eprintweb. Retrieved December 14, 2015. 
  29. ^ "arXiv License Information". Retrieved July 21, 2013. 


External links[edit]