Weyl and Weil knew each other's work well. Weil will have known Weyl at the Institute for Advanced Study, and I suppose they talked about Weil's ideas on fibre bundles, while Weil was teaching in SE Pennsylvania. Weyl died before Weil joined the IAS.

Their specific family histories were too far apart to suggest any identifiable common ancestor. But did either of them ever comment that the family names are etymologically the same?

I am not asking about the spelling, pronunciation, or history of these names. I do wonder whether either of these men publicly took notice of (i.e. commented on) the connection.

For example I too have heard that Weil commented on possible one-day confusion of his name with Wiles. He was enough of a linguist to know "Wiles" is not etymologically kin to "Weil" -- and certainly to know in contrast "Weil" and "Weyl" are minor variants of one name. Did he ever talk about that?


closed as off-topic by Alexandre Eremenko, J. W. Perry, HDE 226868 Feb 18 '15 at 22:57

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about history of science and math, within the scope defined in the help center." – Alexandre Eremenko, J. W. Perry
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ In Russian the names are identical (Вейль), and I've seen it lead to some confusion if the speaker doesn't clarify who is meant. Separately, I read somewhere that I can't recall anymore that Andre Weil had suggested that in the future some people would confuse him with Andrew Wiles. $\endgroup$ – KCd Feb 8 '15 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ Ah! Yes. The two of them must have met this confusion sometimes in fact. But I still wonder if either of them said anything for posterity about the connection. $\endgroup$ – Colin McLarty Feb 9 '15 at 2:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Their names are pronounced differently (and spelled differently). It is only in Russian transliteration that they are spelled the same (and some Russians confuse them:-) In English Weyl is pronounced in the German way while Weil in French. So they do not sound similarly. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Feb 9 '15 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexandreEremenko Believe me, native English speakers, even students of mathematics attending math conferences, have confused Weyl and Weil. I fear most university students in the US would draw a complete blank if you advised them to use the French pronunciation of the spelling "Weil." $\endgroup$ – Colin McLarty Feb 9 '15 at 15:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AlexandreEremenko : Weil, Weill and Weyl are three spellings of the same name, all of them pronounced [vajl] in High German but [vejl] in Yiddish, French, Russian and other languages. It is a common Jewish name and is believed to be an anagram for Levi (ויל from לוי). $\endgroup$ – fdb Feb 10 '15 at 20:11