Dad’s Computer Algorithm Spits Out So-So Baby Name

Over the weekend, I read Renee Moilanen’s funny account of her husband attempting “a more mathematical approach to baby naming” after all other methods had failed.

First, he had us each write down names that appealed to us. Second, my husband categorized our choices using three different baby name books to determine that we wanted a timeless name in the “fitting in/standing out” genre. Next, he downloaded 200 years’ worth of historical baby name data from the Social Security Administration and loaded it into a geeky software program called Matlab.

Lastly – I swear I am not making this up – he created an algorithm to yield all of the timeless, fitting in/standing out and not-too-trendy names by weeding out names with big popularity spikes (goodbye Jennifer and Jason) and those currently in the top 100 of popularity.

(Have to be nitpicky for just a second — the SSA only has about 130 years’ worth of data, not 200 years’ worth.)

Sadly, after all that work, they didn’t find a name they loved.

[W]e picked a name off the list that we both could tolerate. We didn’t love it, and even now, we only half-joke about changing it. But the name seems like it suits our serious little engineer-in-training: Grant.

Undoubtedly, when Grant grows up, he’ll hate his name. But at the very least, he’ll have to appreciate his father’s dogged determination to find a quantifiably perfect name. My husband spent many long nights tweaking that algorithm and crunching data for a little guy he’d never met but loved just the same.

On the one hand, it’s a great story. I love that the husband actually set out to find a “quantifiably perfect name.”

On the other hand, the name they ended up with is one they “tolerate” and “half-joke about.” Hm.

What do you think — successful experiment?

Source: Who picks a name for a newborn without crunching the data first?


2 thoughts on “Dad’s Computer Algorithm Spits Out So-So Baby Name

  1. Yes, it’s probably just about the same thing.

    The Nymbler site is vague about what factors the program focuses on — I think they want to make it seem like magic — but, honestly, there are only so many factors to consider.

    Maybe the husband should put his program online as a Nymbler competitor. The money he makes from ads/sponsorships could go into Grant’s college fund or something.

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