Abstract / Synopsis
The Surname Impossibility Theorem offers solace to anyone who has struggled in the quagmire of choosing a surname for a child. I posit that it is impossible to find a method for giving a child a surname that satisfies the important criteria of being traditional, aesthetically pleasing, ancestor-respecting, non-sexist, gender-neutral and non-heterosexist. My mathematical approach defines what those criteria would mean and analyzes different naming systems to conclude that no method could satisfy all criteria. In the same way that Arrow's Impossibility Theorem proved that no voting method can satisfy all criteria for a fair election, I prove the impossibility of choosing a perfect surname.
Adam Graham-Squire, "The Surname Impossibility Theorem," Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 10 Issue 2 (July 2020), pages 222-236. DOI: 10.5642/jhummath.202002.11. Available at: https://scholarship.claremont.edu/jhm/vol10/iss2/11