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This question is being asked on behalf of a graduate student in my department. When and where did the tradition start of a seminar or colloquium speaker using just the first initial of the speaker's last name (or initials for the speaker's first and last names) when stating a theorem due to the speaker? Attributions of results due to anyone else, including joint theorems with the speaker, are usually indicated with the other people's full last name.

Anything like a photograph of Hilbert giving a talk with "Satz (H.)" at the start of a theorem would be great to see if it exists.

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I don't know about when and where, but can give you my understanding of why. If you're giving a talk, presumably you present a lot of results that are your own. It gets tedious to repeatedly write your own name, so you replace it with an initial. You may have noticed that if a speaker has collaborated with the same person frequently, he/she may also replace that person's name with an initial after the first mention.

This doesn't really explain why this has continued with computer talks, but I guess it's just tradition...

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