Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why is Lance Lance and GASARCH GASARCH?

A while back a comment asked Why is Lance Lance and Gasarch Gasarch? It meant why are posts by Lance labelled Posted by Lance where as posts by Gasarch and labelled Posted by GASARCH. Why use Lance's first name and Gasarch's last name? (It didn't ask why is GASARCH in caps. They likely knew its my trademark.)

Lance is not a rare name, but its rare enough that if you say Lance in the context of Complexity Theory, people know who you mean. Bill (or William) is a common name. There are two in my department: Bill Arbaugh who does security and Bill Pugh who does PL (he is known to the theory community for inventing skip lists). They don't do theory, but Bill Rounds, Bill Steiger, , Bill Roscoe, Bill Hesse, Bill Harrison all do. I don't know who Bill Marion is, but he wrote an article about why Discrete Math is good for computer scientists to know (the topic of another blog perhaps). (Some of these Bill's call themselves William.)

Which famous people are only known by one name? This depends on what you mean by famous and known. I could not find a list on the web, but by poking around I made up my own. Additions are welcome. I list them with comments on if I count them or not and why.
  1. Bono- Paul Hewson. YES- Never knew his first name. Or his last name. Music.
  2. Charo- Maria Rosaria Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza. YES. I can see why she went to one name. Actress?
  3. Cher- Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre. YES. One name is better than her real name. Music and Movies.
  4. Edge- David Evans. NO- never heard of this guy. Music.
  5. Elvira- Cassandra Peterson. YES- A C-list celeb or lower. Could have used her real first name. Actress?
  6. Elvis- Elvis Prestly. YES, though his last name is well known. Music.
  7. Elvis- Elvis Costello. NO. He should have used Costello. Music.
  8. Halston- Roy Halston Frowick. NO- never heard of this one. Fashion Designer.
  9. Hammer- Stanley Kirk Hacker Burell. YES- though I thought he went by M.C. Hammer. Music.
  10. Kreskin- George Joseph Kresge. Jr. YES- he was a famous mindreader.
  11. Liberace- Wladziu Valention Liberace. YES. Didn't now Liberace was really his last name.
  12. Madonna- Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. YES. Didn't know Madonna her really her first name. Music.
  13. Prince- Prince Roger Nelson. YES. Didn't know Prince was really his first name. Also used this as a name. Music.
  14. Sting- Gordon Matthew Sumner. YES. Could have used Gordon or Sumner as his one name. Well... maybe not. Music.
  15. Mr. T- Lawrence Tureaud. YES- Is this one name? I say YES. Actor?
  16. Topol- Chaim Topol. YES. Actor.
  17. Twiggy- Leslie Horby. YES- Was more famous in an earlier era, but still a celeb. Dancer.
  18. ***SORELLE***- a grad student in my department. She will be famous one day. She already has the name for it.


  1. How could you miss Bill Cook?

  2. How do you know Bono but not The Edge? THEY PLAY IN THE SAME BAND!

  3. Morrissey - Steven Patrick Morrissey

  4. Ronaldo - Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima

  5. Elvis- Elvis Costello. NO. He should have used Costello

    ...and missed all the irony of a nerdy guy being the second coming of Elvis?

    What a dumb idea.

  6. How about a list of members of the theory community that are recognized by their first name alone. (Note: In general, this requires both being well known and having an uncommon first name.)

  7. (Tangential)
    I always found it really cool that Haskell Curry has things after both his names, first and last.

    Alan Turing, Albert Einstein, all those get the short shrift with the first names.

    Way to go Haskell Curry.

  8. Re #7: Well, their names are common, but I'd say Alice and Bob are well-known in the theory community, and go only by first name.

    Also, for neurotic completeness: Elvis Costello was born Declan Patrick MacManus.

  9. For anon7, Umesh, Avi, Avrim/Manuel (they are forced to be), Noga(?), Scott(?) are unique first names.

  10. Scott(?) are unique first names.

    Scott Shenker? Scott Vanstone? Dana Scott?

  11. I must say that Noga as a first name is extremely uncommon even if you count in the entire male population of Israel.

  12. Let's not leave the other famous blogger out - Muthu..

  13. My name is Elvis Aron *Presley*, not Prestly, but you can call me ELVIS.


    ELVIS has left the building.

  14. This reminds me of the "4 bills" book, Combinatorial Optimization by Bill Cook, Bill Cunningham, Bill Pulleyblank, and Lex "Bill" Schrijver...

  15. Which reminds me of the textbook that Otfried Cheong (Schwarzkopf) can and has called the "4M book": Mark, Mark, Marc, and Me.

  16. Arvind - don't know his full name (does anybody), he's a professor of CS at MIT.