July 1, 2014

What's in a name?

When two or more mathematicians, working collaboratively or independently, make essential contributions to solving a particular mathematical problem, the result is traditionally given a hyphenated name, such as the Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser theorem in dynamical systems theory, or the Fokker-Planck equation in statistical mechanics.
I wonder what would have happened to this naming tradition if the German-American mathematician Jürgen Moser and the Dutch mathematical physicist Adriaan Fokker had proved the same important theorem.  Just put yourself in the shoes of a mathematics professor who has to announce to his class:

Today we will be discussing  the Moser-Fokker theorem.

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