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Tag Archive: names

Name Standardization: Problems and a Solution


Name standardization, on its surface, would appear to be a primarily aesthetic problem (no pun intended). People's names can be listed "last, first" or "first last". Simple, right? Not exactly. When you're naming different things— people vs. organizations, for instance— and dealing with different ordering, capitalization styles, honorifics, suffixes, metadata or other additional info embedded in names (e.g. politicial party signifiers, company departments or locations), or just general cruft and typos, name standardization is a thorny problem. Add to that the fact that there are no universal identifiers for people or companies in many datasets, names rarely (if ever) come split into their constituent parts, and we are often expected to link data via little more than a name string, and you can see how relevant the issue is to the world of open government data.

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