Fame and Glory

Nobody remembers who invented the latest in cutting edge horse and buggy technology in the 17th century, but we still know the names Newton, Leibniz, L’Hopital, Bernoulli, etc.  Forget making it big with your rock band, the road to eternal fame goes through mathematics!

Of course, there is a slight hitch:  you have to actually invent something new in math so that it can be named after you.

Or do you?


Hopefully your calc professor told you the famous story of l’Hopital. The short version is that he’s well known not because of what he actually did, but for being willing to pay.  He wrote one of the first calculus textbooks:  “Analyse des Infiniment Petits pour l’Intelligence des Lignes Courbes“.  At the time calc was cutting edge math, so l’Hopital hired Johann Bernoulli at 300 francs/year to keep him up to date on the latest developments and to advise in the writing of the book.  The contract allowed l’Hopital to use Bernoulli’s work in any way he liked, so he included Bernoulli’s new methods to calculate indeterminate limits (aka L’Hopital’s rule).   Although it seems l’Hopital didn’t try to claim credit, the famous rule ended up with his name on it anyway!

So if you don’t mind taking credit for other people’s work, and don’t mind shelling out a few bucks, mathematical fame can be yours!  In the modern era, there is no need to hire a mathematician on an annual salary (although the staff of Blog HQ is open to offers! 🙂 ).  Instead, you can just have a computer prove new theorems, and you can claim all the credit.

Theory Mine uses automated theorem proving software to develop a new result in mathematics and then you can name it after yourself (or dear old mom, or your calc professor, or…).  It only costs 15 British pounds and it has the upside that, unlike Bernoulli, a computer doesn’t hold grudges.

"I pity the fool who stole my theorem!" -- Johann "Mr. B" Bernoulli

Of course, there is a downside.  The reason everybody knows l’Hopital’s rule is because it’s handy result that everybody uses.  Theory Mine makes no claim that your theorem will win you a Fields or Abel medal.  We learned about Theory Mine in this article, where the author bought himself the following theorem:

"Don't call us, we'll call you" -- Fields Medal Committee

If you have a Ph.D., Masters, or Honors thesis to write, you might still need to do it the old fashioned way.


One thought on “Fame and Glory

  1. Pingback: Little Known Thesis Requirements « OU Math Club

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