# Very fun algorithm guesses your name with surprising accuracy

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/23/very-fun-algorithm-guesses-you.html

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This wasn’t terribly accurate for me, but it was interesting seeing the name popularity change by dragging the decade slider.

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Apparently I must be a spelling mistake, as it didn’t suggest my name, even after I typed my whole name in. On a point of order, I don’t think that this thing “guesses” at all.

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My name was in the list but it didn’t guess correctly until I typed in the whole thing.

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My wife and I are trans, and have some weird names to begin with before transitioning. We had to fiddle with the gender for each of us, but still, I was surprised it got both our middle names at all. Not our first names though, pre and post transition we were just weird.

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Gave up on the third letter. Curiously, it’s a slightly famous (you’ve heard of it) name from Western literature that has somehow never caught on.

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damn, i felt sure it wouldn’t, but it nailed me on the first letter.

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I was absolutely shocked it did not get my name.

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Not so much a name guessing algorithm, as it is a basic statistics lookup?

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If you go to a website that has a text box for you to enter a letter, and then it tells you what letter you entered, even that would be an algorithm. I wouldn’t be too surprised if a website where you entered an input and then it did “nothing” was formally an algorithm under the most common definitions, which may not specify that the operations or the output have to be non-empty. But definitely, “Just guess Michael” is a name guessing algorithm.

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Should we call youm, “Ishmael”?

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In fact isn’t this algorithm just a very simple case of what “machine learning” does? Given a bunch of training data, choose the most likely output for a given input?

Actually could be useful as an illustration to explain machine learning…

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same here

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Considering the data is from a different country to me it was disturbingly accurate about my kids’ first and middle names. -1 for originality to me and my wife.

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Worked brilliantly for me, both of my parents, and two of my three siblings.

An interesting data search algorithm that correlates gender, decade of birth, and first few letters of the first name. The “intelligence” in it is just identifying a clear statistical favorite when one emerges.

Some of them are drop-dead simple, of course. I was one of four boys in my third grade class (ca. 30 students) who shared the same given name.

For me this is a bit of a caution about how very few data points it takes to start getting the necessary level of detail to accomplish an identity theft.

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I have a very common name so i’m sure even a human being could guess what my name is with just the first letter

Crashed and burned with “Hamish”… Incomplete algorithm is incomplete.

My parents always said they picked the names they did for my sister and me because they weren’t in the family, our clan having many repeats, e.g., Robert, Richard, William. They did, however, manage to pick two names that were really high on the popularity list for the time we were born. I only had to enter the first letter for mine. For my sister, and coincidentally also for my SO, just the decade was enough.

You mean it works really well for white people.

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