Any famous undergraduate/high school papers?

Have any undergraduate or high school papers gone on to become famous or highly regarded?

Probably not the kind of thing you were expecting, but Shostakovich’s Symphony no 1 was his degree submission at the St Petersburg Conservatoire, when he was 19…and it’s regularly performed today.

A few years ago there was a teenage girl - she might have even been a junior high school student - who turned in a paper that thoroughly debunked some quack medical practice that was actually quite widely practiced at the time. I think it was “healing touch” or something like that.

She made the rounds of morning talk shows, and I believe her work was even published in some medical journal like JAMA or something.

Emily Rosa.


Maybe not what you want but Sarah Flannery, a 16-year old Irish student produced a paper on “Cryptography-A New Algorithm Versus the RSA” in 2000.

While it had flaws it was still one of the hottest things to hapen in the cryptography world for some time.

In Code

Ronald Coase (Nobel Prize winner for economics in 1991) wrote one of his two famous articles (The Nature of the Firm) whilst still an undergraduate.

Fred Smith famously conceived the origins of Federal Express, the company he would later found, in a paper he wrote as Yalie. IIRC, he got a C grade or worse. Here’s what the FedEx website says:

Famous Origins
In 1965, Yale University undergraduate Frederick W. Smith wrote a term paper about the passenger route systems used by most airfreight shippers, which he viewed as economically inadequate. Smith wrote of the need for shippers to have a system designed specifically for airfreight that could accommodate time-sensitive shipments such as medicines, computer parts and electronics… Etc., etc.

Wolfgang Pauli published a series of papers on relativity, culminating in a review at age 20 while a 2nd year undergraduate. Although I can’t find a great link, my recollection is that his review was the standard monograph on the subject for decades. Einstein himself is supposed to have said that it was the “best” survey of the subject and commented that no one understood relativity better than Pauli.

This is alluded to here and here.

And then there was Galois, the famous mathematician, who died in a duel when he was 21.