7 Names to String You Along…

Allow me to alienate 99% of my readership by starting this post about strings with a computer science joke.

An int, a char, and a string walk into a bar and order some drinks. A short while later, the int and char start hitting on the bartendress, who gets very uncomfortable and walks away.

The string approaches the bartendress and says, “Sorry about my friends. Please forgive them. They’re primitive types.”

When I was in fourth grade, my best friend was named Benjamin Patrick.

I thought it was cool that his last name was my first name. That may have even been the reason that he was my best friend. This caused me to create a mental game in which I’d string together a series of people where the first name of person n was the last name of person n – 1.

With our two names, I’d get the string Benjamin Patrick Vennebush. Sadly, there’s no one whose first name is Vennebush (at least, not according to a Google search).

How long is a string?
Seven characters. Eight, if you count the space.

I could add to the front of the string, though.

Arthur Benjamin is a mathemagician at Harvey Mudd College.

Beatrice Arthur starred in the TV shows Maude and The Golden Girls.

Those four names get us to the string…

Beatrice Arthur Benjamin Patrick Vennebush

Frank Beatrice is a realtor in Boston, an operations manager in Indianapolis, and a guitar shop owner in New York.

To that, we could add Anne Frank to get…

Anne Frank Beatrice Arthur Benjamin Patrick Vennebush

However, Beatrice Frank is a professor in Newfoundland, an HR Exec in Philadelphia, and a student in Australia — to be sure, this game was more fun and challenging before social media — and using her name with Frank Beatrice leads to…

Beatrice Frank Beatrice Frank Beatrice Frank Beatrice Frank Beatrice…

That’s a two-name infinite loop.

• Without using search engines or social media, what’s the length of the longest string of names that you can create?
• Bonus points if you create a string where the first name of the first person is the last name of the last person, i.e., you create an infinite loop of names.
• Scoring: +1 for each name in your string; ×2 if you create an infinite loop.
• Use only names that other folks who read this blog would know. (Assume that some of them have actually been outside recently — which may or may not be a good assumption — and haven’t spent the last seven years in an attic trying to trisect an angle.)

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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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