The literary potential of author names

In an age where literary originality is hard to come by, shouldn’t more attention be paid to the great potential of author’s names as literary device? In mathematics, we can enjoy the delightful papers of Nicolas & Sárközy (for instance, this one). Theoretical physicists probably still chuckle when reading the paper of Alpher, Bethe and Gamow (though the story goes that Alpher was pretty upset when Gamow decided to add Bethe as a co-author, purely for euphonical reasons…)

Do you know any other examples?

(As for myself, I am sorry that the traditions of mathematical publication make it highly unlikely that a Stanley — Kowalski paper will ever appear.)

Published by


I am a professor of mathematics at ETH Zürich since 2008.

2 thoughts on “The literary potential of author names”

  1. This one is obvious…
    Cox, D. A.; Zucker, S. (1979). “Intersection numbers of sections of elliptic surfaces”. Invent. Math. 53: 1–44. doi:10.1007/BF01403189.

  2. Well, you certainly know Doron Zeilberger. Some of his papers and books are written in “collaboration” with computer named Shalosh B. Ekhad. OK, I heard about it and decided to check, so I looked at the Web of Science and I see 20 papers by Shalosh B. Ekhad, most of them without Zeilberger being a co-author. The silicon being Shalosh B. Ekhad is obviously pretty active and it seemingly develops a solid academic career. I suppose there is some `literary’ meaning in the name of Mr. Shalosh B. Ekhad, but one probably has to know Hebrew to decipher it.

    Another example is Andre Geim, the Nobel Prize winner in Physics for 2010. Gaim also won the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for the frog levitation experimen, so it is not a surprise that he co-authored a research paper with his hamster Tisha:

    Geim, A. K.; H.A.M.S. ter Tisha. (January 2001). “Detection of earth rotation with a diamagnetically levitating gyroscope”. Physica B: Condensed Matter 294–295: 736–739.

    Geim wrote this article when he was in Holland; the name H.A.M.S. ter Tisha sounds pretty Dutch indeed.

    OK, the above examples probably cannot compete with Nicolas & Sarkozy…

Leave a Reply to Pavel Krapivsky Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *