As gardeners know, a tomato is not just a tomato. They come in all shapes, sizes, and especially colors, from tiny red gems to big and purplish brown to pear-shaped with zebra stripes. And their tastes and textures vary wildly as well, with some sweet and soft, some tough-skinned and tart, and some dense and destined for processing.
These varieties all have names, of course, and good names are at a premium. Darren Abbey, who runs the blog The Biologist Is In, breeds new tomatoes and needs to name them from time to time. He gave me a list of 11,629 existing names, ranging from the highly experimental (Rts-119) to the classic (Sungold).
I used these names to train a recurrent neural network, which is a kind of algorithm that learns patterns that let it imitate the data it sees. Could it learn to produce plausible tomato names?
Yes, as it turns out! On Darren’s blog post you can read his expert opinion, but the verdict is: these are totally usable names.
However, not ALL the names were plausible. These are a lot weirder.
Golden Cherry Striped Rock
Old German Baby
Ranny Blue Ribber
Adoly Pepp Of The Wonder
Cherry, End Students
Small Of The Elf
Champ German Ponder
Green Zebra Pleaser
These *seem* weird, but they aren’t actually all that weird for tomato names. There are at least 50 oxheart tomatoes in the original dataset.
Striped Hollow Potato Leaf
Lelly’s Yellow Stuffers
Terra Pink Strain
Babla’s German Paste
Mortgage Lifter, Honey Blues
These however? These tomatoes don’t sound promising.
Shirve’s Gigant Bullburk
Roma Wasting Star
Bolosavyi Scarling West Colon
San Blue Tard
For more in-depth analysis of these names, check out Darren’s blog.
I also trained a neural net on fruit names earlier - read the results here.
And this post’s bonus content is well worth checking out, because not only does it contain many more tomato names, but I also tried an experiment where I trained a neural net first on tomato names, and then on the names of metal bands. The results were glorious, including such wonders as:
Angels of Saucing
Devil Potato Large Death
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