This theory is the unique supersymmetric theory in eleven dimensions, with its low-entropy matter content and interactions fully determined, and can be obtained as the strong coupling limit of type IIA string theory because a new dimension of space emerges as the coupling constant increase.

Drawing on the work of a number of string theorists *(including Ashoke Sen, Chris Hull, Paul Townsend, Michael Duff and John Schwarz)*, Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study suggested its existence at a conference at USC in 1995, and used M-theory to explain a number of previously observed dualities, sparking a flurry of new research in string theory called the second superstring revolution.

According to Witten and others, the M in M-theory could stand for master, mathematical, mother, mystery, membrane, magic, or matrix.

Witten reluctantly admits the M in M-theory can also stand for murky because the level of understanding of the theory is so primitive. However, originally the letter was taken from membrane, but since Witten was more skeptical to membranes than his colleagues, he just kept the "M". Later, he let the meaning be a matter of taste for the user of the word "M-theory". In the early 1990s, it was shown that the various superstring theories were related by dualities, which allow physicists to relate the description of an object in one super string theory to the description of a different object in another super string theory. These relationships imply that each of the super string theories is a different aspect of a single underlying theory, proposed by Witten, and named "M-theory".