Name That Child Computationally

A new study outlines how the Google PageRank algorithm is used to choose a name for a new child. In accord with mathematicians’ traditional practice, the study does not explicitly name the name of even one child:

Lead author Folke Mitzlaff, who does not reveal how his own first name was chosen.

Lead author Folke Mitzlaff, who does not reveal how his own first name was chosen.

Recommending Given Names – Mining Relatedness of Given Names based on Data from the Social Web,” Folke Mitzlaff and Gerd Stumme, arXiv:1302.4412, February 18, 2013. (Thanks to investigator Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Kassel, Germany, explain:

“All over the world, future parents are facing the task of finding a suitable given name for their child…. The present work tackles the problem of recommending given names, by firstly mining for inter-name relatedness in data from the Social Web. Based on these results, the name search engine “Nameling” was built… We also show, how the gathered inter-name relationships can be used for meaningful result diversification of PageRank-based recommendation systems.”

This graph illustrates how PageRank figures into the process:


3 Responses to “Name That Child Computationally”

  1. .folke Says:

    Well, I’ll reveal how my first name was chosen: My parents bought a book about names and spent hours, browsing through the list. I still have their final list of ‘candidate’ names (actually two of them, as ultrasonography wasn’t that advanced at those days).

    When I was searching for a name for my child, all those data mining skills came in handy ;-). Currently, we are setting up the Discovery Challenge at the ECML PKDD 2013 (, inviting researchers to contribute with new name recommendation approaches. We are very much looking forward to this challenge, which will be both fun and serious science…

  2. Improbable Research? | 15th Discovery Challenge Says:

    […] paper on name recommendations was featured on the Improbable Research Blog. “Improbable research is research that makes people laugh and then think.”… Lets […]

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