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The Middle Name Guesser

5am, 27th January 2009 - Geek, Interesting, Developer

I have recently made some improvements to the Middle Name Guesser (one of which was to make it actually work again) and I'd like to take this opportunity to invite you to have it guess your middle name... or your friend's middle name, or your favourite celebrity's middle name.

I have also added a couple of statistics graphs and you can clearly see exactly when I fixed that pesky little bug that only showed up when it actually guessed your middle name correctly. (It was a typo I introduced the last time I edited the file - a strong argument for automated testing if ever I heard one.) At that point it was getting about 1 in 20 guesses correct. Since then it has been steadily improving up to a peak of getting 1 in 4 guesses correct. 1 in 4 guesses correct is better than I ever hoped it would achieve. I was originally thinking that 1 in 10 would be a good result. Now I'm wondering if it will get to 1 in 2...

I expect to see the ratio of correct to incorrect guesses remain relatively unstable until the number of new, unique middle names, first names and last names (the red, blue and purple line) starts flattening out. After that the ratio should only improve as the relationships between the known first and last names and middle names are strengthened.

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On Sun 14th Jun 2009 at 3am Prathik Raj said:

Hi Dave,
Its been a while since I came here. Good improvement on the name guesser. Although it didn't guess my middle name. That is because I am an Indian and your generator probably does not support non-American names?
As far as the self learning mechanism goes, that's a great concept.
On Tue 6th Sep 2011 at 6am Dave said:

Actually, the code has no knowledge of any names at all. It certainly has no knowledge of what makes a name "Indian" or "American". The only names it knows are the ones it has learned by people telling it what their names are after it guesses their names incorrectly. To get things started when the database was empty, I trawled Wikipedia for pages which listed first, last and middle names and I entered those in manually as if Sir James Paul McCartney had actually visited my site himself.

In theory, it should support Japanese and Arabic names with their non-English alphabets just as well as English names.

If you ask it to guess your name but it says it has never seen your middle name before, it will nearly always guess your name correctly the next time you ask it.

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