We recently shared the work of Janelle Shane, who trained a neural network on a database of route names from Joshua Tree (5,633) and Boulder, Colorado (4,527). The results were both amusing and baffling. We wondered how the generated names might differ if we provided Janelle with our much larger database of 432,000 route names, which we split by country.
A reminder of what a neural network is, for those who are unsure:
'A neural network is a type of computer program that learns by example, rather than being told exactly how to solve a problem. Based on thousands of examples of route names, it had to figure out the rules that let it generate more like them. At a low temperature* setting, it will generate names that it thinks are very quintessential - they'll end up a bit repetitive, but it will mostly be correct. At a higher temperature setting, it will be more daring when it generates names, going with less common sounds and phrases.'
* Temperature is a hyperparameter of LSTMs (and neural networks generally) used to control the randomness of predictions by scaling the logits before applying softmax...apparently...
We jokingly asked if this is the future of route naming for first ascensionists. James McHaffie was firm in his response...
Janelle duly fed the information to a neural network to produce a list. There's definitely a more British feel to the names created using our data. Sheep, tea and even midges make an appearance. Janelle guided us through the process. Check out her blog on this latest project here.
First, for the cleanest dataset possible, I extracted the countries that have mostly English-language route names (about 155k names once I removed duplicates and numbered routes) and now the neural net is churning out one plausible name after another.
Ramp of Lies
The Dog Sand
Left Hand Monster
The Scratching One
The Angel's Crack
The Folly Cloud
The Cat Bear
Block of Fred
The Space Special
The Sun Mouse
The Bobble Block
The Rib (Stinkley)
Cry Problem 15
Scary Boulder Start
Solo Gallow Wall (STEXXY
The Sole and Elephant
Crag and Be Bloody
Wine for the Great Free Man
I'm happy to report that some of the names were indeed even weirder than your typical route name.
You're Not Andrew
Master In Your Tea
Bean on the Pocket
Seven Dry Have Ship
No Rocks Egg
In Arms if the Lords
Parking Store Substance
Over a Wall No Mover
The Very Seven Steps
Robin Time and The Sheep
Captain Purple and Darkness
The Sun Tin's Not Your Winds
There are, of course, a whole category of names that are quite rude...
Mantlet Butt's Locket
Ring for A Spank
The Slappy Slab
The Slippery Man
Sink of Bugger
Anal The Light Black Straw
The Willy Wind
The Willies of the Smith
Next, I trained the neural net on the entire database, just to see what it would make of the non-English names. It definitely struggled more this time - it reported much lower confidence in its results. But it did manage to become multilingual, generating names that were identifiably French, Spanish, or German (these were the most common languages other than English in the dataset, so these were mostly what it learned). Even if many of them didn't make much sense.
La Grimper - French: The 'to climb'
Cascade de l'ange - French: Angel Falls
De l'angle de la surplomb - French: From the angle of the overhang
Steines Schwein - German: Stone's pig
Sin Homble - Spanish: Without Homble
El Pollute - Spanish: The Pollute
Rapute de la vine - Romanian: Rapping of the coming
Danse ton de Barre - French: Dance tone of bar
Sometimes it did end up mixing up the languages, although not as often as I had expected. Maybe it was doing it much more with languages I was less familiar with, and I couldn't tell.
Via Les Rocks (Left - Low Shit Thing)
El Pantes du Petit
La Desire del pierra
Le Chins de Constant (Standing Pub)
El Lope du Pante
Sans Inside Droit
Via de la finger
Placa de Carpet
Its brainpower was spread a bit thin, trying to remember rules for generating multiple languages at once. Unlike human brains, it definitely wasn't built for compartmentalizing multiple languages. This struggle had an effect on the quality of its English names, which actually I rather like.
Boulder 1, Problem the Gorge
Blue Boulders Problem 1
No we and Cheese
The Corner Stand of The Little Heart
Cat of the Shallow
Escapes of the Beach Brother
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