Mathematics has been described as the giving of the same name to different things, but sometimes different names are given to the same thing.
Can you give examples of concepts where researchers in different areas have used the same concept under different names for a long time before it is discovered they are talking about the same thing ?
Wavelets might be an example.
EDIT: In response to Willie Wong's comment. I was thinking of the book "The World According to Wavelets. The Story of a Mathematical Technique in the Making" by Barbara Burke Hubbard.
Here's some quotes from page 26: "I have found at least 15 distinct roots of the theory, some going back to the 1930s", Meyer said. "David Marr, who worked on artificial vision and robotics at MIT, had similar ideas. The physics community was intuitively aware of wavelets dating back to a paper on renormalization by Kenneth Wilson, in 1971". Littlewood and Paley developed wavelet-like techniques. Alberto Calderon developed a continuous version of wavelets. Yet other researchers developed wavelets-which they called "self-similar Gabor functions"-to model the visual system. Jean Morlet developed wavelets as a tool for oil processing.
From page 40: "Multiresolution approximation and wavelets", Mallat. The paper made it clear that work that existed in many different guises and under many different names -- were at heart all the same.