What's in a name? Sometimes a lot. With a little thought, you can usually use the letters of a name as a self-descriptive acronym. There are some famous acronyms for cars:
This month's contest is to do the same thing for mathematicians. For example, Carl Friedrich Gauss is considered to be one of the top mathematicians of all time. When he was a child, he reportedly added the numbers from 1 to 100 in a few seconds, by considering the 50 sums 1+100, 2+99, . . . 49+50 that each add to 101. Therefore a fitting acronym for Gauss would be:
Pierre de Fermat is most famous for conjecturing what is now called Fermat's Last Theorem: that the equation an + bn = cn has no integer solutions when a,b,c > 0 and n > 2. He wrote in the margin "I have discovered a truly remarkable proof which this margin is too small to contain." This remained the most famous unsolved problem in mathematics for hundreds of years, until it was finally proved by Andrew Wiles in 1994. For Fermat, our acronym is:
Giuseppe Peano is most famous for his Peano axioms, which defined the natural numbers in terms of sets. For him, we have:
Now it's your turn. Write an acronym for a famous (or infamous) mathematician. If you need some help, you might want to consult the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive located at: http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk./~history/BiogIndex.html . There you can find biographical information on hundreds of mathematicians. Send your acronyms to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15, 2001. Selected entries will be published in the Novermber 2001 Math Horizons, and their authors will receive Math Horizons t-shirts.