Recently I open this book to look up a certain theorem and saw something peculiar about the acknowledgments I've never notice before:


I thank Ron Infante and Peter Pappas for assisting with the proof reading and for useful suggestions and corrections. I also thank Gimli Khazad for his corrections.


The first two seem to be the (real) mathematicians Ronald P. Infante and Peter Chris Pappas but the third name is quite suspicious: everything I can find about this name is either related to the famous dwarf from Lord of the Rings or a small town in Canada. What's even more funny is that the surname "Khazad", in the fictional dwarven language created by Tolkien, means "dwarves".

Is Serge Lang thanking Gimli the dwarf? Was he known to make pratical jokes? This is too much of a coincidence.

EDIT: Here's a link to the book. The acknowledgments are after the foreword.

  • $\begingroup$ Please leave a link to a PDF or give us the book name. I'm too darn curious. $\endgroup$ – PranavGupta53535 May 11 at 10:10
  • $\begingroup$ @PranavGupta53535 It's in the title: Serge Lang - Linear Algebra. $\endgroup$ – lisyarus May 11 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ @PranavGupta53535 I added a link. The book is the famous "Linear Algebra". $\endgroup$ – Rnhmjoj May 11 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ In Introduction to linear algebra (math.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~richard/teaching/f2014/Lin_alg_Lang.pdf ) he also thanks gimli khazad $\endgroup$ – Milan May 11 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ Hahah that's funny. I think Gimli Khazad is prolly a very undocumented guy. $\endgroup$ – PranavGupta53535 May 11 at 10:22

Some googling shows that member of the MAA and poet Ayshhyah E. Khazad (1944, Kalamazoo, Michigan) (aka Asha Khazad, aka Gimli Khazad, born John Pilaar) has a degree in mathematics from Western Michigan University. He participated in the Putnam competition in 1964, when he was a sophomore. Lang's book was published in 1966. The material covered there is rather elementary so it seems plausible that he would have been able to proofread Lang's book for him. He might have helped Kenneth Ross too, as another Gimli Khazad is acknowledged here.

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    $\begingroup$ This seems to be pretty conclusive, but the coincidental overlaps with The Lord of the Rings are still curious! $\endgroup$ – student May 14 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ @student Perhaps he choose Gimli as a nickname because he recognised his second name in Lord of the Rings. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Cunningham May 15 at 6:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think you're right. As far as I can track it from Mr. Martinez's post, the name changes happened as follows. John Pilaar to Aysshyah E. Khazad (a pen name for his poetry) to Gimili Khazad. Curious about the first name change (John Pilaar to Aysshyah E. Khazad). But the second could have been inspired by the LOR! $\endgroup$ – student May 16 at 15:25

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