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Many mathematicians know that Lewis Carroll was quite a good mathematician, who wrote about logic (paradoxes) and determinants. He found an expansion formula, which bears his real name (Charles Lutwidge) Dodgson. Needless to say, L. Carroll was his pseudonym, used in literature.

Another (alive) mathematician writes under his real name and under a pseudonym (John B. Goode). (That person, by the way, is Bruno Poizat: it's no secret, even MathSciNet knows it.)

What other mathematicians (say dead ones) had a pseudonym, either within their mathematical activity, or in a parallel career ?

Of course, don't count people who changed name at some moment of their life because of marriage, persecution, conversion, and so on.


Edit. The answers and comments suggest that there are at least four categories of pseudonyms, which don't exhaust all situations.

  • Professional mathematicians, who did something outside of mathematics under a pseudonym (F. Hausdorff - Paul Mongré, E. Temple Bell - John Taine),
  • People doing mathematics under a pseudonym, and something else under their real name (Sophie Germain - M. Le Blanc, W. S. Gosset - Student)),
  • Professional mathematicians writing mathematics under both their real name and a pseudonym (B. Poizat - John B. Goode),
  • Collaborative pseudonyms (Bourbaki, Blanche Descartes)
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Does Nicolas Bourbaki qualify? –  Andrey Rekalo Nov 7 '10 at 18:00
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I think you will find some answers at mathoverflow.net/users . –  darij grinberg Nov 7 '10 at 20:46
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@darij: Indeed! I never knew Bugs Bunny had such a fondness for algebra and geometry. –  Thierry Zell Nov 8 '10 at 1:41
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Donald Knuth used the pseudonym Ursula N. Owens when submitting a paper to get more honest reviews. (As described by Wilf on page 3 of math.upenn.edu/~wilf/website/dek.pdf) –  Moshe Schwartz Nov 8 '10 at 7:56
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Meta thread: tea.mathoverflow.net/discussion/758/… –  Andrey Rekalo Nov 9 '10 at 9:56
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53 Answers

Jacob Goodman published the as-yet-unsolved Pancake Problem under the pseudonym, Harry Dweighter ("harried waiter"). See, e.g., http://www.math.uiuc.edu/~west/openp/pancake.html

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Although some think of Pythagoras as one person, it is now thought that his name is used for geometric and number theoretical discoveries made by anonymous members of his sect.

Thus, we can think of "Pythagoras" as the pseudonym of a collective of Greek intellectuals from about 500 BCE.

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Joseph Bernstein published a paper under the pseudonym "Yantarov" (which is derived from the Russian translation of the German word "Bernstein" which means "amber"). At the time of writing he was an "otkaznik", a person waiting for permission to emigrate from the USSR, and a paper under his own name would not be accepted.

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Dennis Serre gave the Bloch example on 18 June. –  Gerry Myerson Dec 8 '12 at 21:29
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Albert Gifi is a group pseudonym for a groupf of authors writing "Nonlinear Multivariate Analysis" From this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_de_Leeuw

"De Leeuw is the originator[4] of the Albert Gifi team that wrote Nonlinear Multivariate Analysis.[5] In Multidimensional Scaling, Volume 1,[6] Cox and Cox write that "Albert Gifi is the nom de plume of members, past and present, of the Department of Data Theory at the University of Leiden who devised a system of nonlinear multivariate analysis that extends various techniques, such as principal components analysis and canonical correlation analysis." "

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D'Alembert's name was in a sense a "pseudonym." D'Alembert was abandoned as an infant. However, d'Alembert was neither the name of his birth parents nor his adoptive parents. He made it up when he was a student.

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Henri-Paul de Saint Gervais is a collective pseudonym of fifteen mathematicians who recently published a book, Uniformisation des surfaces de Riemann, retour sur un théorème centenaire, about the uniformization of Riemann surfaces. (presentation of the book, in French). They met in Saint-Gervais to work on the book, hence the lastname. The firstname, Henri-Paul, reminds of Henri Poincaré and Paul Koebe, of course! By the way, this book is highly recommended !

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Rainich=Rabinowitsch (of trick fame : cf. Nullstellensatz).

Here is an anecdote related by Bruce P. Palka, Editor of American Mathematical Monthly in Vol.111 (2004) of that journal (page460).

Rainich was giving a lecture in which he made use of a clever trick which he had discovered. Someone in the audience indignantly interrupted him pointing out that this was the famous Rabinowitsch trick and berating Rainich for claiming to have discovered it. Without a word Rainich turned to the blackboard, picked up the chalk, and wrote

                    RABINOWITSCH

He then put down the chalk, picked up an eraser and began erasing letters. When he was done what remained was

                   RA IN  I CH

He then went on with his lecture.

Editing I (Georges Elencwajg) am sorry to have caused some confusion yesterday: not being able to access the library , I gave a reference in the comments which was probably not the intended one! Many readers were very helpful with their comments, in particular Sándor, who took the trouble to copy the text corresponding to my reference and David Roberts who put it here in the answer and which you can read below. Thanks a lot to all.

To quote jstor.org/pss/4145123

"Lance also contributes some new information to the saga of the elusive Mr. Rabinowitsch (see the Editor's Endnotes in the May 2004 issue): Poor Rabinowitsch, whoever he may be. The correct reference is: J. L. Rabinowitsch, "Zum Hilbertschen Nullstellensatz", Math. Ann. 102 (1930), p.520. In various places his first initial is either "A" or "S." On my trip to the library, I saw that Rainich had published in the Annalen under his own name and from Ann Arbor the previous year. Why a pseudonym?" The mystery deepens a bit in a biography of Rainich, where it's mentioned that he was born Rabinowitsch. On the same theme, Herman Roelants of Leuven, Belgium, points out that a Rabinowitsch anecdote similar to the one in the May 2004 MONTHLY is found on page 959 of the MONTHLY paper "Reminiscences of an Octagenarian Mathematican" by L. J. Mordell (November, 1971). Herman goes on to say that details concerning this source, together with references to important number-theoretic work of Rabinowitsch, can be found in the text and in a footnote on page 108 of Richard A. Mollin's book Quadratics (CRC Press, 1996).”

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Dear Sandor: since this is community wiki, it might have been better to edit the answer than to leave this in comments. –  Thierry Zell Nov 7 '10 at 21:44
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Dear fherzig, thank you: I think that was the page I actually meant originally! –  Georges Elencwajg Nov 8 '10 at 21:45
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I'm surprised that no one named Leonardo of Pisa, known as Fibonacci to us (though he didn't use this nickname, and its origin is not completely clear).

Al-Khoresmi is apparently a nickname as well (though this time used by the author), meaning his origin.

(Maybe not exactly an answer to the original question, because these are rather nicknames, not pseudonyms.)

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I think that Leonardo da Pisa is the nickname (whose meaning is clear), while Fibonacci is his family name, being the contraction of "filius bonacci"="son of Bonacci". –  Gian Maria Dall'Ara Nov 8 '10 at 16:05
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If you mean by Al-Khoresmi "Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi" then I think he does not qualify. It was customary at the time to use geographic names of family origin as family name. This means that he had the name "Al-Khwarizmi" all his life and that his father, brothers and sons (if he had any) had the same name. –  Hany Nov 8 '10 at 19:56
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Few sidenotes: 1. Bearing the name Abu Jafar implies that he most probably had a son named Jafar. 2. drawing a line between first and family name in Oriental naming schemes is quite hard - so one can consider 'al-Khwarizmi' as just a part of his family name. 3. My experience tells me that most of people with 'geographic' family names get those when they move - i.e. I believe Al-Khwarizmi is not an exception in that case - family probably got the name when they moved to the south. This is a bit off-topic, but I couldn't help it. –  Harun Šiljak Nov 8 '10 at 20:39
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André Bloch was an active mathematician during his stay (1918-1948) in a psychiatric asylum. During WWII, he wrote under the pseudos René Binaud and Marcel Segond, to hide his Jewish name.

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In the 1980's there were a few papers by Bill Moran, William G. Hoover and Stronzo Bestiale; the most famous is http://williamhoover.info/Scans1980s/1987-3.pdf If you read italian, it will be obvious for you that there is something wrong with the last name. There is a legend that the first two authors were so upset about the third co-author, that they replaced his true name with this one: see http://individual.utoronto.ca/scharf/bizarre.htm The paper went through the whole refereeing and publishing process!

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Si non è vero, è bene trovatto ! –  Denis Serre Jul 10 '11 at 7:28
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As far as I know, Horst Herrlich has some publications as Y.T. Rhineghost. http://www.informatik.uni-bremen.de/~herrlich/public/index.html I do not know the story behind this pseudonym.

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Noaï Fitchas was a pseudonym for the group of Joos Heintz and his students Leandro Caniglia, Guillermo Cortiñas, Silvia Danón, Teresa Krick, and Pablo Solernó.

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Yes, I mentioned that here on 9 November 2010. –  Gerry Myerson Jun 19 '12 at 1:01
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Hugo Steinhaus was also an author of aphorisms, which he published in the daily "Slowo Polskie" under a pseudonym Sestertius. Most were just goofy definitions of everyday terms. The following example seems to do OK in translation from Polish: "An opinion that all high-rank officers are stupid: a generalization". The book edition ("Slownik Racjonalny") appeared in 1980 (after his death) under his real name.

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"Smooth Manifolds and Observables" by Jet Nestruev.

The actual team of Authors: A. M. Astashev, A. V. Bocharov, S. V. Duzhin, A. B. Sossinsky, A. M. Vinogradov, M. M. Vinogradov

Springer-Verlag, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, vol. 220, 2002

A Russian answer to Bourbaki (see the preface to the book).

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D. P. Parent is the author of a book of Exercises in Number Theory. Its authors are D. Barsky, F. Bertrandias, G. Christol, A. Decomps, H. Delange, J.-M. Deshouillers, K. Gérardin, J. Lagrange, J.-L. Nicolas, M. Pathiaux, G. Rauzy and M. Waldschmidt. The initials of the pseudonym recall the names of Delange, Pisot and Poitou, the three organizers of a Number Theory Seminar in Paris, which runs since 1959.

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Shalosh B. Ekhad, hmm, not sure if that's exactly a pseudonym but it sort of fits this discussion.

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+1 ! It is borderline, but nice. According to Wikipedia: Doron Zeilberger is known for crediting his computer "Shalosh B. Ekhad" as a co-author ("Shalosh" and "Ekhad" mean "Three" and "One" in Hebrew respectively, referring to the ATT 3B1 model) –  Denis Serre Mar 31 '11 at 6:13
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The mathematician Dan Barbilian was also a poet, having the pen name Ion Barbu. Some of his works are described here and here.

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E. S. Pondiczery was a pseudonym used by R. P. Boas Jr. in the paper Power problems in abstract spaces. The name became part of the well-known Hewitt-Marczewski-Pondiczery theorem.

Another pseudonym used by Boas (and F. Smithies) was H. Pétard. I highly recommend that you take a look at the hilarious Lion Hunting and Other Mathematical Pursuits (A Collection of Mathematics, Verse, and Stories by the Late Ralph P. Boas Jr.) for more information in this regard.

Added (Nov 7/2010) In that book you can also learn about other pseudonyms (for instance, Ian Stewart's one) and the memorable feud 'twixt Bourbaki and Boas.

Added (Nov 8/2010) According to page 10 of the said book, H. Pétard was in fact a pseudonym that they made up for the use of E. S. Pondiczey. Isn't this awesome?

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The paper "Why You Cannot Even Hope to Use Gröbner Bases in Public-Key Cryptography? An Open Letter to a Scientist Who Failed and a Challenge to Those Who Have Not Yet Failed" by Boo Barkee , Julia Ecks , Theo Moriarty , R. F. Ree: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.5.7134

The lead author is Moss Sweedler. Boo Barkee was the name of his dog (so does this count as a pseudonym :-)?).

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That would depend on how much the dog contributed to the paper. –  Gerry Myerson Nov 17 '10 at 20:33
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According to Moss "Boo Barkee revealed his love for mathematics when he licked a draft of the paper about SAGBI. (From “Subalgebra Analog to Gr¨obner Bases for Ideals”)" –  Victor Miller Nov 18 '10 at 19:47
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Moss told me that in searching for appropriate titles for papers written by Boo Barkee, he thought the best was "Marking trees in characteristic $p$". –  Lubin Mar 30 '11 at 20:30
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Arthur L. Besse - after the round tables held at Besse in France. (The "L." is for Lancelot.)

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Another find on MathSciNet. Dominique Descotes, Genese des corollaires 1 et 2 de la lettre à Carcavy de Blaise Pascal, MR 99g:01016, review by Craig Fraser: In December of 1658 Blaise Pascal began to publish under the pseudonym A Dettonville the mathematical work Lettres de A Dettonville.... According to C B Boyer, "the name Amos Dettonville was an anagram of Louis de Montalte, the pseudonym used [by Pascal] in the Lettres provinciales."

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The review by E Reich of I J Good and K Caj Doog, A paradox concerning rate of information, MR 19, 1245h, informs us that "The name of the second author is understood to be a pseudonym."

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MR 23 #A2744 reads,

Schark, I. J.

Maximal ideals in an algebra of bounded analytic functions.

“I. J. Schark” is a pseudonym for the group: Irving Kaplansky, John Wermer, Shizuo Kakutani, R. Creighton Buck, Halsey Royden, Andrew Gleason, Richard Arens and Kenneth Hoffman. J. Math. Mech. 10 1961

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Heinrich Seidel's review of M Lothaire, Combinatorics on Words, MR 84g:05002, says "The name of the author is a pseudonym chosen by the mathematicians who together with D Perrin serve as coauthors." There are about a dozen coauthors.

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Volume 1 of Statistical Methods of Model Building, edited by Helga Bunke and Olaf Bunke, was first published under the pseudonym of K M S Humak. See the review by J Kleffe, MR 88d:62121. See also MR 86b:62002.

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According to Daniel Lazard, in his review of Berenstein and Struppa, Recent improvements in the complexity of the effective nullstellensatz, MR 92m:13024, N Fitchas was a pseudonym for a working group led by J Heintz that got results on the membership problem and the representation problem.

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Here's one more from MathSciNet. N Ya Vilenkin, Formulas on cardboard, MR 93a:01039, reviewed by B Rosenfeld. Nikolay S Koshlyakov was arrested in 1942, was denounced as an "enemy of the nation," and was condemned to ten years in the camps. The book written by him in the camp, Investigations of a class of transcendental functions determined by the generalized equation of Riemann, was published ... in 1949 ... under the pseudonym N S Sergeev (Koshlyakov's patronymic name was Sergeevich).

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Yet another find on MathSciNet. Anita Feferman, Politics, Logic, and Love, MR 93j:01010, reviewed by D J Struik. This is a biography of Jean van Heijenoort. "In 1948 he broke openly with his past in a paper of [sic] the Partisan Review, where he denied the scientific nature of Marxism. He wrote it under a pseudonym (Jean Vannier) - after all he was an alien and it was the McCarthy period."

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Continuing to troll through MathSciNet, I find Yu I Krivonosov, Higher mathematics and higher authority, MR 2002k:01034, reviewed by R L Cooke (and I highly recommend the review). It seems that A I Lapin, a convicted anti-Soviet agitator, confined to an asylum in Leningrad, was allowed to publish under a pseudonym in 1952.

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One may type "pseudonym" into an "Anywhere" box at MathSciNet and find 44 hits. Many of these are not relevant to the question at hand, but I'll post any that I find that haven't been posted here already. Here's one: Christian Tapp, Kardinalitat und Kardinale, MR 2006h:01012, the review by Volker Peckhaus says that in Chapter 5, "We learn about [Georg] Cantor's pseudonyms such as Vincent Regnas, Jorge Vincente Monteador de Montemor, and others...."

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