Parents-to-be who are searching for suitable names for a new arrival are about to get help. Computer scientists from the University of Kassel are coordinating an international competition to improve the algorithms used by Nameling, a web-based name search engine.
Nameling, which is already available online, asks you to type in a name you like and then provides name recommendations. It is the brainchild of Folke Mitzlaff, a research associate in the Department of Knowledge and Data Engineering at the University of Kassel.
Last year as the birth of his youngest daughter was approaching Mitzlaff experienced first-hand how difficult it can be to find a suitable name for your own child:
"Unlike in previous times, today's parents take a multitude of factors into consideration when making a decision"
and referring to the way in which babies these days are often names after football heroes or pop stars, such that fashion is a big influence he asks
"Should we follow the trend or consciously disregard it?"
Now Nameling is the basis of a Discovery Challenge organized in conjunction with this year’s European Conference on Machine learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases. Seventeen teams have already participated in the first phase of the competition in which contestants were asked to predict future search activities based on a training data set. It resulted in a broad variety of recommendation techniques being applied and adapted to the data, ranging from classical collaborative filtering approaches and association rule mining to advanced factorization machines.
In the second phase, which is currently underway, participants are integrating their recommender systems into the Nameling website.
All participants have been asked to prepare papers to be delivered as oral presentations or posters at the 15th Discovery Challenge Workshop, a one-day event at ECML PKDD 2013.
So will we see new trends in baby naming in the future based on the application of knowledge discovery techniques to the old age problem of finding just the right name?