ma005 - Mathematical FirstsWho Done It Richard H Williams...

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“Mathematical Firsts—Who Done It?” Richard H. Williams, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124 Roy D. Mazzagatti, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, FL 33186 Mathematics Teacher, May 1986, Volume 79, Number 5, pp. 387–391. Mathematics Teacher is a publication of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). More than 200 books, videos, software, posters, and research reports are available through NCTM’S publication program. Individual members receive a 20% reduction off the list price. For more information on membership in the NCTM, please call or write: NCTM Headquarters Office 1906 Association Drive Reston, Virginia 20191-9988 Phone: (703) 620-9840 Fax: (703) 476-2970 Internet: E-mail: [email protected] Article reprinted with permission from Mathematics Teacher, copyright May 1986 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. All rights reserved. I n mathematics and other scientific disciplines a common practice is to name a theory, an equation, and other discoveries in honor of the scientist who pioneered the investigation. Some examples of such expressions are Galois theory, Fahrenheit scale, Freudian psychoanalysis, pasteurization, Zorn’s lemma, Planck’s constant, Linnaean system of botanical classification, Hilbert space, Darwin’s theory of evolution, Halley’s comet, Keynesian economic theory, Mendelian genetics, and so on. Designations of this type are called eponyms, and they are so ubiquitous that a volume now exists entitled Eponyms Dictionaries Index: A Reference Guide to Persons, Both Real and Imaginary, and the Terms Derived from Their Names (Ruffner 1977). Robert K. Merton, a noted sociologist, has produced a provocative body of work on the social structure of science in which he views this notion of attaching the name of an individual to a scientific discovery as a feature of the reward system of science (Merton 1957). In writing of “fatherhood” in science, Merton (1965, 102-3) remarked that “on rare occasions the same individual acquires a double immortality, both for what he achieved, and what he failed to achieve, as in the case of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries, and Aristotelian and non-Aristotelian logic. Most rarely of all there are eponymies within eponymies, as when Ernest Jones bestows on the Father of Psychoanalysis the title of ‘the Darwin of the mind.’ ”
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In the November 1983 issue of the American Statistician, an article appeared bearing the puzzling title “Who Discovered Bayes’s Theorem?” The author, S.M. Stigler, provides evidence that the expression “Bayes’s theorem” may be a misnomer or a pseudoeponym (Stigler 1983). The purpose of this article is to present a list of a dozen such mathematical misnomers. For each of these we have included the original eponym together with a brief
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ma005 - Mathematical FirstsWho Done It Richard H Williams...

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