Sunday, June 16, 2024

Should Prover and Verifier have been Pat and Vanna?

LANCE: I had my first Quanta Article published! I explore computation, complexity, randomness and learning and feeling the machine.

BILL: Feels to me like a mashup of old blog posts. Changing topics, I told Darling that you used Pat for Prover and Vanna for Verifier in a 1987 conference talk but those terms did not catch on. She was shocked!

LANCE: I'm shocked you two are married 32 years.

BILL: We hope to get to 64. However, she thought those were really good names for the concept (she has a masters degree in Computer Science so she knows stuff) and wondered why wouldn't those have caught on.

LANCE: I think that its frowned upon to use a cultural icon to tied to one country. There are Europeans who have no idea who Pat and Vanna are. For that matter, there are some Americans, particularly academics, who have no idea who Pat and Vanna are. And who would remember either of them once they stopped hosting the show? And who thought that would be 2024?

BILL: Who do papers on Interactive Proof Systems use?  Of course Author-Merlin games. Is the legend of King Author so well known (or at least it's well know that there IS a legend) that its okay to use those names? I think yes. 

LANCE: Did you really think his name is Author? I command thee to see Excalibur and learn the legend for yourself. Excalibur also being the name of a Computer Othello program I wrote in the 80's.

BILL: All right, Arthur. For one thing, we, or at least everyone but me, still knows who they are many years later, whereas Pat and Vanna will be lost to history. Hey Arthur and Merlin even got a science cartoon for their role in interactive proofs.

LANCE: Did Arthur and Merlin ever host a game show? I used Victor and Pulu in my thesis. I've also written papers where we use Prover and Verifier.

BILL: Pulu? Anyway, Prover and Verifier are boring!

LANCE: Sometimes boring works. We need to only use cultural icons that spans many cultures and won't be forgotten in 200 years. Just to be on the safe side, use cultural icons that are over 200 years old. 

BILL: Can you think of any cultural icon that has been used in Math or Computer Science and the name did catch on?

LANCE: The Monty Hall Problem.

BILL: I suspect there are many people who know who Monty Hall is only because of the paradox. And that is a paradox. Here is a name that didn't catch on: Sheldon's Conjecture was named after Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. However, since it was solved, the name won't catch on, which is probably just as well. 

LANCE: How does the Chicken McNugget Theorem fit into this?

BILL: I don't know but it's making me hungry. Let's eat!


  1. Let me post here as I consider myself a typical European. I only heard of Pat and Vanna when I read on this blog that they are about to retire. I know the legend of Arthur and Merlin. I only heard of Monty Hall because of the paradox. When I try to tell it to other people, they usually refer to it as the goat or the car problem. Never heard of Sheldon's Conjecture, nor the Chicken McNugget Theorem, though the latter is of course well-known as the coin problem for two coins.

  2. Not math or comp sci, but R. Nozick did publish his Wilt Chamberlain Argument:,_State,_and_Utopia#Distributive_justice