Monday, March 21, 2005

The Perfect Arconym

Vicky Kalogera at Norhwestern posed an interesting challenge at Aspen last summer - is there a true 4th level acronym, and are there any perfect higher order acronyms?

So, a second order acronym, is an acronym with an acronym in it: thus LIGO is the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory, and Laser is itself an acronym.

Then LSC - the LIGO Science Collaboration is a third level acronym, and something like the LSC Software Package - LSP, would be a fourth level acronym.

So, now the challenge: what "natural" 4th and 5th level acronyms exist (ones not just created to satisfy the challenge)?

Secondly, are there any perfect higher order acronyms. A perfect acronym is, of course, an acronym ALL of whose components are themselves acronyms. I can believe a natural perfect second order acronym exists, I'd be skeptical that there are any 3rd level ones (ALL the letters acronyms, all of which themselves are ALL acronyms).

For a more perfect challenge - consider TLAs only, or only acronyms which are proper words (aka apronyms)!

Further, there are recursive acronyms - the most famous being GNU.
But, are there any circular acronyms? I can't think of any, they'd have to be 3rd order or higher. An artificial example would be as follows:

consider FOO

FLAP is the FOO Logical Analysis Package

FUM is the FLAP User Module

and FOO is the FUM Object Organiser!

I'm sure better examples can be thought of.

Some time this week I may have occasion to think of science again. For now, indulge me, I spent 5 hours in meetings today, more than half of which pertained to a TLA Federal Agency. At least I refrained from using bullets...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The GNU Hurd is a recursive acronym:

`Hurd' stands for `Hird of Unix-Replacing Daemons'. And, then, `Hird' stands for `Hurd of Interfaces Representing Depth'.

5:23 PM  
Blogger ghytred said...

GNU is also recursive, isn't it?

= GNU's Not Unix

12:32 PM  
Blogger seeks2know said...

Here is a recursive TLA:

PHP = PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

8:05 PM  
Blogger seeks2know said...

Here is a complex acronym. I am not sure how to classify the level since it is us created from multiple acronyms.


GNU = GNU's not UNIX
UNIX = UNICS = Uniplexed Information and Computing System

AWK = Aho, Weinberger, and Kernighan (authors last names)

8:11 PM  
Blogger seeks2know said...

Here is my final submission for tonight.

GTK = GIMP Tool Kit
GIMP= GNU Image Manipulation Program
GNU = GNU's not UNIX

A true 3rd level acronym that include a recursive acronym.

Can I claim GTK+ as a true 4th level acronym?

I didn't think so...

8:35 PM  
Blogger seeks2know said...


I almost missed it! This is really a true fourth level acronym.

GTK = GIMP Tool Kit
GIMP= GNU Image Manipulation Program
GNU = GNU's not UNIX
UNIX = UNICS = Uniplexed Information and Computing System

That makes GTK+ as a possible 5th level acronym!

Who is the final arbiter of this?

Anyway, now I am truly done for the night.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Steinn said...

Well, that didn't take long.

Recursives, circular and 4th and possible 5th level acronyms.

I'm not sure if GTK+ can count as a level above GTK, but there is bound to be an acronym with GTK as a component somewhere or soon.

I'll have to run this by Vicky when I see her (hopfully next month if I make it to Chicago). She put it out there, she should arbiter.

2:27 PM  

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