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2020-01-20 08:01:02

An institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences has suspended a researcher who made “false statements” about his supposedly self-designed programming language.

In a statement Sunday, the Institute of Computing Technology said it had suspended the researcher, Liu Lei, and launched an investigation after Liu was accused of ripping off an open-source version of the widely used Python programming language and calling his version Module Unit Language, or “Mulan.”

According to media reports, the institute had announced the release of the purportedly self-designed programming language on Jan. 15. However, the Sunday statement claimed that Mulan — a product that was allegedly “completely autonomous,” even though its development kit includes the Python open source compiler — was not developed by the institute, but rather by a company Liu founded.

“This behavior constitutes scientific misconduct (in the form of) deception and false statements,” the institute said.

A day earlier, Liu had apologized in a public letter for making “exaggerated statements” about his work. He initially said that the programming language had been independently created, and that it could help further the development of the Internet of Things — the increasingly diverse array of internet-connected devices, from phones and fridges to cars and home assistants.

The scandal reminds some people of a previous high-profile case of technological fraud. In 2003, a scientist at a Chinese university claimed to have designed a microchip he had dubbed “Hanxin,” or “the Chinese chip” — but three years later, the chip was found to have come from the United States.

And in April 2018, Chinese netizens discovered that the source files of what was supposedly the country’s first and only fully homegrown web browser appeared to have been copied from Google Chrome. (Image: CNS)