How do you know if a citation of one John Smith is the John Smith you’re looking for? What if it’s a citation of J. Li, an even more common name? The task of “disambiguating” two authors with the same name is a tough challenge for a computer, but INSPIRE is making great strides on this front. In fact, an algorithm has been developed to solve name ambiguities.

The secret of this algorithm is the use of an extended probability model to combine various properties of similarity. For example, a set of papers can be split into the papers about astrophysics versus the papers on B mesons. The person with the same name in both sets might be two different but identically named people so we’ll split the records along those lines and just give you the set you’re looking for based on other criteria in your search.

The key to success is to ask the authors of the research community to approve their publication lists. The motivation for asking the community is that we think the authors know best which publications are actually theirs. This hybrid approach of the algorithm and the users’ participation in the project allows for the most precise publication lists and stats. We now offer a link on the author page to make these kinds of corrections. If you do see something wrong, please take a moment to correct it so we can make the database more useful and informative for you and for everybody else.

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