The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

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The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby gbagcn2 » Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:32 pm UTC

I posted this on the linguistics forum about a week ago but aparently it was off topic there so I am reposting this topic here. Here it is:

I remember reading a while ago that the letters xkcd were supposedly chosen randomly but several obversions about these letters leads me to believe this is not that case. First of all the first 3 letters all look/sound "sharp" and they go in reverse alphabetical order. Calling someone sharp is another way of calling them smart. The first letter is x which is a letter that appears frequently in math and is the third to last letter in the alphabet. The third letter is c which is the third letter in the alphabet. The fourth and last letter is d which is also the fourth letter in the alphabet. Also since the letter d is made up partly of a line on its right side it provides "closure" for all 4 letters. When you get a D grade in school it is the lowest grade you can get while still passing.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby philsov » Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:37 pm UTC

I think if you close one eye, tilt your head thirty degrees, and stand back about ten feet you can find little bits of order in anything random.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Belial » Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:43 pm UTC

Well, also, "random" in this case was used to mean "not with any plan or significance".

He was looking for any combination of letters that didn't mean anything.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:00 pm UTC

gbagcn2 wrote:I posted this on the linguistics forum about a week ago but aparently it was off topic there so I am reposting this topic here. Here it is:

I remember reading a while ago that the letters xkcd were supposedly chosen randomly but several obversions about these letters leads me to believe this is not that case. First of all the first 3 letters all look/sound "sharp" and they go in reverse alphabetical order. Calling someone sharp is another way of calling them smart. The first letter is x which is a letter that appears frequently in math and is the third to last letter in the alphabet. The third letter is c which is the third letter in the alphabet. The fourth and last letter is d which is also the fourth letter in the alphabet. Also since the letter d is made up partly of a line on its right side it provides "closure" for all 4 letters. When you get a D grade in school it is the lowest grade you can get while still passing.

You forget that xkcd = (24)+(11)+(3)+(4), or .. *gasp* 42!

24*11*3*4 = 2772 - a mirrored number

2772/2/2 (divided by two TWICE)=693, a number divisible by 3 composed of numbers divisible by 3.. 693/3 = 231. 2*3*1=6, just as 2+3+1=6. 6/6=1, the number of people it takes to draw xkcd.

COINCIDENCE? I think not. There's just no way.

And, of course, if we take 24+11+3+4+42+24+11+3+4+2772+2772+2+2+693+3+3+693+3+231+2+3+1+6+2+3+1+6+6+6+1+9104664 we get 9112001.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Cheese » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:19 pm UTC

ST, you missed the bit about them representing a penis on a QWERTY keyboard, and the even better likeness on dvorak!
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby SDIX » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:32 pm UTC

I've wondered myself, but then at the same time... my username is just random letters as well.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby dwype » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:36 pm UTC

it's a conspiracy. it's actually a secret government organization. they're spying on us. it's not random at all.
Everybody lies.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby liltimmy » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:37 pm UTC

I actually think they're quite easy to remember, and the combination sounds nice.
I don't know if that's intended or just me.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby fyrenwater » Wed Apr 22, 2009 5:24 am UTC

If you tilt your head to the left, "xkcd" looks like a guy triumphantly crushing a hat. Clearly Randall has a vendetta against hats. That's what Black Hat Guy is a jerkass! DUH.
...It made more sense in my head.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby gallifrey » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:06 pm UTC

gbagcn2 wrote:and they go in reverse alphabetical order.


oh really?
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Cheese » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:09 pm UTC

gbagcn2 wrote:the first 3 letters all look/sound "sharp" and they go in reverse alphabetical order.
ya rly
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby SirHoundalot » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:10 pm UTC

I heart Apophenia.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Blokey » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:16 pm UTC

I don't know why we keep posting, SecondTalon pretty much won this thread. I know you don't win on the internet, but somehow he still did.

Though in regards to this:
SecondTalon wrote:24*11*3*4 = 2772 - a mirrored number

It is also the average of 2620 and 2924, a pair of Amicable Numbers.

I love the fact that even the sarcasm here gives me food for thought. Kudos, sir. Kudos.

edit: how adorable is the term 'amicable numbers'? I would also like to see 'cuddly sets', 'delightful tangents' and 'darling coordinates'.
this may well be a form of delightful tangent in itself though.
Last edited by Blokey on Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:20 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby wst » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:18 pm UTC

gbagcn2 wrote:When you get a D grade in school it is the lowest grade you can get while still passing.
Actually, you mean 'E'

Oh, that doesn't fit the rather arbitrary pattern you've found, disregard it.


*facepalm*
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby the tree » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:36 pm UTC

Blokey wrote:I would also like to see 'cuddly sets', 'delightful tangents' and 'darling coordinates'.
I am fairly certain the burden is on you to invent them. For the last one I'm fairly sure you'd be able to find a mathematician called Darling who did something that you could related to co-ordinates in some fashion.
Blokey wrote:this may well be a form of delightful tangent in itself though.
Oh very droll.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby gallifrey » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:39 pm UTC

Cheese wrote:
gbagcn2 wrote:the first 3 letters all look/sound "sharp" and they go in reverse alphabetical order.
ya rly


oooohh... haha i should probably read whole sentences before commenting..
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:52 pm UTC

wst wrote:
gbagcn2 wrote:When you get a D grade in school it is the lowest grade you can get while still passing.
Actually, you mean 'E'

Oh, that doesn't fit the rather arbitrary pattern you've found, disregard it.


*facepalm*
In fairness, it depends on the grading scale in use. My 2-8 years, for example, had grades of A B C D and F, while my 9-12th years had A, B, C, D, E.

... I really wish I knew why.

... My first grade year had something incomprehensible involving Us and Is and Rs and possibly a Q. I have no idea how I did in any subject, but remember my sense of crushing despair when I'd read the entire Reading book in the first week and found out.. that was it.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Whelan » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:56 pm UTC

Hey, in one of my subjects a G is a pass. Only just but still, it's officially possible to get a G. I think it's 6 out of 60 on the exam.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Box Boy » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:59 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:In fairness, it depends on the grading scale in use. My 2-8 years, for example, had grades of A B C D and F, while my 9-12th years had A, B, C, D, E.

... I really wish I knew why.

... My first grade year had something incomprehensible involving Us and Is and Rs and possibly a Q. I have no idea how I did in any subject, but remember my sense of crushing despair when I'd read the entire Reading book in the first week and found out.. that was it.


In Ireland it goes: A, B, C, D, E, F and if you fail completely you get N.G (No Grade)
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby RetSpline » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:31 pm UTC

Ds? Es? My school just goes A B C F, though in AP classes anything from 60-69 (technically an F) passes, so there's a kind of invisible D in there.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Blokey » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:46 pm UTC

RetSpline wrote:69 (technically an F)


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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Goatboy » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:17 pm UTC

My Special Lady Friend found an old report card from elementary school that used a grade system where the letters stood for words* (I remember I had them, too, for a while), our favourite being the S+ she got in some subject. S=Satisfactory. S+. Makes me happy. I think NI was Needs Improvement. F was Fair if I'm not mistaken. A great system.

*Because of this and the connection between and "F" and "Flunking" I figured A, B, C, and D must've stood for something, too.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:04 am UTC

Amazing, 'Bout Right, Close, Durr, Fail?

I've never seen E used as a grade. Only the ABCDF scale (or in college they add some things like W=withdrawal, if you dropped the course, and others I can't remember), a scale like Goatboy described with S and NI, and plain numeric ones.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Amnesiasoft » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:08 am UTC

Everyone knows xkcd is just a shortened form of eXtreme Quesidillas!
These xkcdillas are delish!

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby angelfire » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:05 am UTC

maybe he just did a face roll on a qwerty keyboard.
ie banging face on keyboard and rolling face across the keys
and the letters xkcd came up

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Woofsie » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:16 am UTC

Whelan wrote:Hey, in one of my subjects a G is a pass. Only just but still, it's officially possible to get a G. I think it's 6 out of 60 on the exam.


You can pass with 10%?

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Whelan » Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:52 pm UTC

It's RE. We used to do exam questions as unit finishers, and I got 2 out of 20, which was G and technically a pass, according to a booklet we were given. I should point out I'm a Brit though, so we have different grading to America and Aus as far as I know.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Zachh » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:35 pm UTC

X- Common variable used in all mathamatics, has more meaing in Trig and Calculus

K- In physics K is Kentic energy or K-value which is "how springy a spring is"

C- I dunno

D- distance maybe?


I mean his is a phyics genius maybe that has something to do with it.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Schmut » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:17 am UTC

Zachh wrote:C- I dunno

Seriously? I would have thought that C being represantive of the speed of light was fairly universal knowledge.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby nahvkolaj » Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:25 am UTC

Schmut wrote:
Zachh wrote:C- I dunno

Seriously? I would have thought that C being represantive of the speed of light was fairly universal knowledge.


could also be the hypotenuse of a triangle, the arbitrary constant that all my math professors that i've had for calculus and differential equations classes. i like the speed of light the best, though.

honestly, i'm gonna assume xkcd is random. i'm gonna tell you my screen name nahvkolaj is random...my friend and i were bored one day, and came up with names that sounded cool with a russian twist, if you want to call it that. he got sarjunken, i got nahvkolaj. but i bet one of you (even me, if i had some time i wanted to devote to it) could find some kind of meaning behind nahvkolaj. english teachers make a living off of doing that stuff.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Gentlelady » Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:41 am UTC

Zachh wrote:
C- I dunno



C=Q/V

Trying to solve for capacitance.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Onomi » Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:52 am UTC

Box Boy wrote:In Ireland it goes: A, B, C, D, E, F and if you fail completely you get N.G (No Grade)


At some point you have to wonder if just listing their score might just be easier all around. :)

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby the tree » Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:41 am UTC

I think it was A-G and U for GCSEs when I left, it might have changed since. I'm told that F stopped being the worst one because the connection with 'fail' was too negative.

I honestly have no idea what it was for A-Levels, but probably A-F and U.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby rnew » Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:43 am UTC

My school made me laugh, it had U for ungraded. If you did soshit and the examiner couldn't be bothered to mark it. We also had X for if you didn't turn up.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Teapot » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:11 am UTC

rnew wrote:it had U for ungraded.
So that's what my grade for maths meant! I got 40% which is technically a pass but I failed the homework throughout the year, so my grade showed up as U and I had no clue what that meant until now. :oops:
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby RetSpline » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:19 pm UTC

Gentlelady wrote:
Zachh wrote:
C- I dunno



C=Q/V

Trying to solve for capacitance.
Also circumference. This makes me wonder what it is that prevents mathematicians from just inventing their own symbols. At least parallel (||) and perpendicular ( | )make sense.

I'm pretty sure every English and Greek letter is used at least twice.

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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby LE4dGOLEM » Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:11 pm UTC

rnew wrote:My school made me laugh, it had U for ungraded. If you did soshit and the examiner couldn't be bothered to mark it. We also had X for if you didn't turn up.
A guy in the year above managed to make his A levels spell out CUBA

A guy in my year managed FUDGE. I know U to mean "unclassified" though.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Game_boy » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

In the Maths GCSE a 'P' is the lowest grade. After A*, A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Below 'P' is U, ungraded. P isn't a real grade but it means you get some credit for the unit rather than zero, and if with your other grades it averages out to a G then you end up with a G.

The questions on the 'G' grade paper for GCSE (age 16) were like "What is this shape?" and it was a hexagon.
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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Gellert1984 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

C is also a programming language isnt it?

Onomi wrote:
Box Boy wrote:In Ireland it goes: A, B, C, D, E, F and if you fail completely you get N.G (No Grade)


At some point you have to wonder if just listing their score might just be easier all around. :)


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Re: The letters xkcd don't seem to be chosen randomly

Postby Box Boy » Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:45 am UTC

Gellert1984 wrote:C is also a programming language isnt it?

Onomi wrote:
Box Boy wrote:In Ireland it goes: A, B, C, D, E, F and if you fail completely you get N.G (No Grade)


At some point you have to wonder if just listing their score might just be easier all around. :)


But that'll stop our respective governments and prospective employers from pidgeon holing us!

Sorry if I wasn't clear, they give you the percent as well.
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