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Last Names of Nerds

Most of us at Atomic probably qualified as nerds in high school. If you agree with Paul Graham’s observations in his essay How to be Silicon Valley, this is no bad thing.

Today I happened to observe something strange about our nest of nerds: our last names fall disproportionately into the first half of the alphabet. In fact, 77% of our last names start with a letter in the range [A-M].

A quick search didn’t turn up what the alphabetical distribution of last names in the US actually is, but I guess it must be a lot closer to evenly distributed than our data indicates. We don’t keep a paper phone book anymore, so I couldn’t measure that way. The only data I had readily at hand was our customer database. In this much larger set of names, 64% fall in the first half of the alphabet.

Maybe nerds are more near-sighted, have to sit closer to the front of the room, and actually learn more in school?