This website will be obsolete by 2018-03-26. Please refer to http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://VincentVerheyen.com/

# What's in a (mathematical) name? The uncreative and un-critical process of naming mathematical objects/thoughts

Post date:

28/4/2016

Last modified:

31/7/2016

Why is an "eigenvalue" called an "eigenvalue"? Why should the "the Birkhoff–Grothendieck theorem" be called "the Birkhoff–Grothendieck theorem"?

As a philosopher, I feel opposed to the obscure non-clarifying namings of mathematical objects/thoughts.

I am not experienced enough with mathematics to know, but it seems to me that mathematics has a lot to learn from philosophy here.

You might object this, and say: "look, the philosophical community is equally backwards: it seems like there is something called 'the Socratic Method'". But I don't agree with that objection completely, as it is only partially (and perhaps more for the layman) backwards in its naming conventions: 'the Socratic Method' is only one name given to the method, and people have come up with better and more thought-through names, such as:

Therefor, I am hoping to team up with a (group of) mathematician(s), to try to re-name mathematical objects, so that the relation between mathematical thoughts can be hinted at, just by looking at an object's/thought's name.

Please contact me if you were interested to do this. I am looking for a (group of) mathematician(s) to live with for many months or even years. I can fly to any country in the world.

As a philosopher, I feel opposed to the obscure non-clarifying namings of mathematical objects/thoughts.

I am not experienced enough with mathematics to know, but it seems to me that mathematics has a lot to learn from philosophy here.

You might object this, and say: "look, the philosophical community is equally backwards: it seems like there is something called 'the Socratic Method'". But I don't agree with that objection completely, as it is only partially (and perhaps more for the layman) backwards in its naming conventions: 'the Socratic Method' is only one name given to the method, and people have come up with better and more thought-through names, such as:

- maieutics;
- method of elenchus;
- elenctic method.

Therefor, I am hoping to team up with a (group of) mathematician(s), to try to re-name mathematical objects, so that the relation between mathematical thoughts can be hinted at, just by looking at an object's/thought's name.

Please contact me if you were interested to do this. I am looking for a (group of) mathematician(s) to live with for many months or even years. I can fly to any country in the world.

## Add new comment