Posts tagged ‘names’

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.”

Ball of StringWhen 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.

So, here’s your challenge:

  • 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.)

Post your best effort in the comments.

June 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm Leave a comment

Prime Twins

When my wife gave birth to our sons, Alex and Eli, I was so excited that I called the minister immediately. “Reverend,” I said, “Nadine just gave birth to twin boys!”

“That’s fantastic!” he replied. “Why don’t you bring ’em down to the church on Sunday, and we’ll baptize ’em.”

“How ’bout we just baptize one,” I said. “Let’s keep the other as a control.”

It can be difficult to tell that my sons are identical twins. The picture below, for instance, is a red herring — though they’re identical, Alex is using a TI Math Explorer purely for computation, while Eli clearly prefers the graphing capabilities of a TI‑73.

Alex + Eli

Prior to their birth, I tried to imagine mathematical names. There are, of course, many pedantic possibilities…

  • Area and Perimeter (Ari and Peri, for short)
  • Max and Min
  • Vector and Scalar
  • Radius and Diameter
  • Abscissa and Ordinate
  • Sine and Cosine

But I’m not one to settle for low-hanging fruit. I pushed myself to find better options.

  • If and Only If
  • Radius and Apothem
  • Vector and Sector
  • Perp and Dicular
  • Johann and Jakob
  • Catenary and Parabola (Cat and Perry, for short)
  • Lucas Cameron Maximilian and Gregory Caliban Farquhar (aka, LCM and GCF)

Today, my perfect sons turn the perfect age — six! And though I wasn’t able to convince my wife that Epsilon and Delta would have been perfect names, I have to admit that Alex and Eli suit them just fine.

What are your suggestions for mathy twin names?

May 2, 2013 at 3:18 am 3 comments

13 Best Names in Mathematics

What’s the best name ever? My vote goes to an Army Reservist whose name — and I’m not making this up; you can find documentation here — is

Staff Sergeant Max Fightmaster

If names truly imply destiny, then this guy was born to be a tough-as-nails sergeant.

A close second is Moxie Crimefighter Jillette, daughter of comedian Penn Jillette. One can only hope that she grows up to be a superhero.

These names got me to thinking: What are the best names in the math world? The math equivalent to Staff Sergeant Max Fightmaster would be Algebra von Calculus. Alas, no real person has ever borne the burden of that name. But with multiple thousands of mathematicians since the beginning of time, there have got to be a few gems in there, right? Indeed. Here’s my dirty baker’s dozen.

1. August Beer – Are you kidding me? My favorite month and my favorite libation? Honestly, this name could only be bested by Ultimate Frisbee Copulation, and no mathematician with that name has yet walked the Earth.

2. Weinan E – To my knowledge, the only mathematician with a single-letter last name.

3. Walcher of Malvern – If things didn’t work out with mathematics, he was ready to be a fearless knight.

4. Srinivasa Ramanujan – It just rolls off the tongue so effortlessly.

Nametag - Srinivasa

5. Jon Barwise – True to his name, his best work was done on beer-stained napkins.

6. Helmut Ulm – The letters in his last name are a subset of the letters in his first name. How cool is that?

7. John Viriamu Jones – The inclusion of Viriamu, which is the Erromangan translation of Williams, makes extraordinary this otherwise very ordinary Welsh name.

8. Ken Ono – Six letters total, and the last name is a palindrome that also means delicious (Hawaiian), is the alternative name for Wahoo (fish), and is an acronym for “Or Nearest Offer.”

9. Udny Yule – Why it’s cool defies description. It just is.

10. Brian Pink – Not many mathy folks can pull off this color, but the Australia Statistician wears his name without shame.

11. Nate Silver – A good name, but he gets bonus points for having a cool title: psephologist (elections analyst). And double bonus points for his statement, “It’s always more interesting to apply [numbers] to batting averages than algebra class.”

12. Chike Obi – First sub-Saharan African to hold a doctorate in mathematics.

13. Persi Diaconis – Just an unbelievably cool name, predestined for greatness.

Not worthy of the Top 13, the following are a few honorable mentions…

  • Morris DeGroot – Sounds like a comic book character, and it has perfect cadence.
  • W. B. R. Lickorish – Three initials, and his last name is a popular treat.
  • Alicia Boole Stott – She got her middle name from her father George, who was no slacker in the math world. Then she married an actuary whose last name has a consonant repeated three times. But to ensure that her name didn’t overpower her brilliance, she coined the term polytope. Nicely done, Alicia.
  • Jim Propp – The inventor of the SRAT has a name that is most propper.
  • James Ax – If name really dictates destiny, shouldn’t little Jimmy Ax have grown up to be a serial killer? Kudos to him for rising above his nomenclatorial limitations.
  • Lewis Carroll – Okay, perhaps this one should be disqualified since it’s a pseudonym — but it is a great name, no?
  • Nathaniel Nye – Alliteration, anyone?
  • Panini of Shalatula – A great mathematician and my favorite lunch-time snack. Win-win!

November 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm 3 comments

Mathy Names

Pink FlamingosWalking into the store was a large woman wearing flip flops, shorts that were too tight, and a shirt that revealed an inappropriate amount of her midriff. She approached the customer service desk, and she told the clerk that she would like to return the pink lawn flamingoes she had recently purchased. When asked the reason for the return, she responded, “My husband thinks they don’t look good next to the plastic deer and gnome on the lawn.” The clerk gave her a form to fill out. I watched over her shoulder as she scribbled her name:

Lois Carmen Denominator

That incident reminded me of my first teaching assignment. If name implies destiny, then I was primed for a spectacular year!

  • Matt Amatics
  • Cal Culator
  • Vin Culum
  • Cal Culus
  • Rose Curve
  • Polly Gon
  • Al Gorithm
  • Polly Hedron
  • Al Jabra
  • Ella Ment
  • Perry Meter
  • Polly Nomial
  • Hy Perbola
  • Lisa Perbound
  • M. T. Set
  • May Trix
  • Al T. Tude
  • Norm Ull

Know any others of this ilk? Post them in the comments section.

May 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm 9 comments


About MJ4MF

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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