When identifying an algorithm or theorem, which of these two sentences is preferred, Seifert's algorithm or Seifert algorithm? Does it have to do with the "prestige" of the algorithm/theorem? I mean that we conventionally say Newton-Raphson method and not Newton-Raphson's method, but it seems to me that when the method is not so known the possessives formed without an apostrophe 's appear to be preferred.

  • One name, use "'s". Two names, don't.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 16:24
  • There are one-named ones without 's. :-/
    – Neeku
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 16:30
  • References seem to call it Seifert's algorithm but the math leads to Seifert surfaces?
    – bib
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 16:40
  • @Mitch The rule is intriguing. I've been searching some instances and it seems to work most of the times for two-named references. For instance, a search of Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process in Google Books occurs almost always without the 's. But as bib and Neeku say, the rule is often broken in one-named instances.
    – Sonntag
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 9:04
  • @Neeku: Which ones? Algorithms seem to be all "-'s". This seems to call for a catalog of named mathematical objects to compare and classify.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


I think apostrophe+s is always preferred. I tried googling and checking various algorithms in Wikipedia, and most of them use the saxon genitive, because they simply belong to the person. Even the Newton-Raphson one is also known as Newton's method.

I can't really explain why this inconsistency exists, but checking a few names in NGrams, I'd say that "'s" is always preferred, since there's a big difference in results of the two forms.

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