What’s In A Name? – Let Wolfram|Alpha Tell You

A recent article in the Vancouver Sun shows some interesting things that you can do with the new computational knowledge engine Wolfram|Alpha.

Author Chad Skelton decided to check out the statistics of his first name, “Chad”.  By inputting “chad” into the entry line, Wolfram|Alpha gives you a wealth of information.  Rather than return a series of links to webpages that may or may not be relevant to what you’re looking for, you get relevant information (that Wolfram|Alpha actually computes itself) on your request.

Now, since “Chad” is an African country, you can end up getting population, geographic, and other demographic info on the country.  But, Wolfram|Alpha also understands that “chad” is a name, a lake, a protein, and also a word (for all you Florida election fans out there…), so you can click on any of these to get that information.  Skelton found out, for instance, that the distribution of “Chad” being used as a first name peaked in about 1973 or so. 

Unfortunately, when I put in my name (“Mic”), I find that I’m either a unit of measurement (a microgram) or a constellation (Microscopium).  “Michael” is a bit easier to identify with a name, and still seems to be pretty popular, peaking between 1950 and 1980. 

You can read Skelton’s original article here, or play around yourself at Wolfram|Alpha.

I currently serve as Director in the Advanced Risk & Compliance Analytics (ARCA) practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). I've served as Director of Data Science & Analytics Engineering at Areté Associates and in leadership positions with Elanix, Inc. (now Agilent Technologies) and Mentor Graphics. I've served the public as Chair of the Thousand Oaks, CA Planning Commission and now work in New York City. I have been married to my wife Stephanie since 1993, and we have a wonderful daughter Monroe. Learn more about me »

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