Blogging ICHEP 2010

A collective forum about the 35th edition of
the International Conference on High Energy Physics (Paris, July 2010)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not a sound name for a physics software program

Through a casual browsing of the Arxiv's hep-ph section, I got to read the following title:

"CAMORRA: A C++ Library for Recursive Computation of Particle Scattering Amplitudes"

Authors are R.Kleiss and G. van den Oord. None of which appears Italian by name, so my first reaction to the title (are these people stupid or what?) got tempered by the fact that they may just be ignorant.

Camorra is the name of one of the three main criminal organizations operating in southern Italy. From wikipedia, even a computer-illiterate could learn that

The Camorra is a mafia-like criminal organization [...] It finances itself through drug trafficking/distribution, cigarette
smuggling, people smuggling, kidnapping, blackmail, bribery,
prostitution, toxic waste disposal, construction, counterfeiting, loan
sharking, money laundering, illegal gambling, robbery, arms smuggling,
extortion, protection, political corruption, and racketeering and its
activities have led to high levels of murder in the areas in which it
operates. It is the oldest and largest criminal organization in Italy.

Giving that name to a software package is a really bad idea, like calling "scrotum" a soft ice cream, "gonorrhea" a lipstick, or "pedophile" a theme park for toddlers. But as I said, the authors are probably just unaware of the issue.

In the paper, one learns that the name "CAMORRA" comes from "CAravaglios-MORetti Recursive Algorithm". Fine, but then why not call it MOCARA or CARMORA ? None of the latter would sound offensive to the ear. Unless, of course, in southern Bali CARMORA is an association of satanists, or the like... One never knows!

I look forward to hearing what you think about this. In the meantime, I sent an email to the authors, suggesting alternative names...

1 comment:

  1. Everything means something somewhere. Employing brandname consultants before starting any scientific project would seem to be overkill. Perhaps we should just thicken our skins?

    After all, no one minds Pschitt for soft drinks or Osram for light bulbs (ask any Pole what that word means).

    Not to mention the Tyrolean village at 48°04'1.84"N 12°51'43.30"E.


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