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This is only barely a math question but I don't know where else to ask. I've always wondered about Harish-Chandra's name. The Wikipedia article seems to mention "Mehrotra" as a last name but only in passing, and it's not even used in the page's title. Did he simply not use a last name?

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Are you sure you have the name order in his native language right? It might be a last-name-first language. – Qiaochu Yuan Apr 14 '11 at 6:17
I don't think it's last-first in any of the ethnic groups I'm familiar with in India, and I also think "Mehrotra" is a pretty common last name. But of course that's a perfectly fine answer if that's the case, that Harish-Chandra is the last name, although it's still odd that the first name is always absent, even from the Wiki article's title. – Alon Amit Apr 14 '11 at 6:22
Name order is right. Although it is not characteristic of all (Hindi) speakers, it was a tradition in northern states to officially refer by first names, titles, occupation, then last name (which encoded socio-cultural information and hence was generally omitted in professional contexts). I am not a historian but this is a general guess from my familiarity with that region. – Please Delete Account Apr 14 '11 at 6:27
I'm pretty sure that in I have a photographic memory Halmos mentions in the brief description under H.-C.'s picture that Harish-Chandra insisted that this was his full name, no first name, no last name. I can't check it at the moment. – t.b. Apr 14 '11 at 10:01
Correction: The passage I mentioned in my previous comment reads 'Harish (who denied having a "first name" in the usual American sense) ...', so I had misremembered. Sorry about that. – t.b. Apr 14 '11 at 14:07
up vote 1 down vote accepted

A link to a biography by Roger Howe now shows up on Wikipedia, and it has this to say:

about the name harish-chandra: indian names do not necessarily follow the western two-part pattern of given name, family name. a person may often have only one name, and this was the case with harish-chandra, who in his youth was called harishchandra. the hyphen was bestowed on him by the copy editor of his first scientific papers, and he kept it. later he adopted “chandra” as a family name for his daughters. given names in india are often those of gods or ancient heroes, and “harishchandra” was a king, legendary for his truthfulness already at the time of the mahabharata. i once saw an indian comic book whose cover featured “harishchandra—whose name is synonymous with truth.”

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