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It is quite difficult to name things. It is notoriously hard in computer science, where there is a trade off between conciseness and selecting a name that makes it easy to understand what the name refers to, and the thing being named may be some level of abstraction that needs to be distinguished from different yet similar things. Naming products and companies is pretty difficult as well, for different reasons, especially when trying to avoid collisions with existing names.

In anticipation of the calculus class during my last year of high school, I purchased a book and started studying the subject during the previous summer. I had always been interested in the “shapes of equations” and was fascinated that differential calculus can be used to find the maxima and minima (known collectively as extrema) of functions! I dreamed of creating a software company one day, and I came up with the name Extrema Information Systems.

While studying at university, I thought about using artificial intelligence in information management. I changed the name to Extrema Intelligent Systems. This second name has the same shape as the first, and it has the same initials.

Many years passed before I actually decided to create the company, and I wanted to use a shorter name. After much deliberation, I selected the name Extellisys, which is a portmanteau of Extrema Intelligent Systems. I liked the name, but it was difficult to pronounce in Japanese. My wife was unable to remember the correct pronunciation, and I realized that I needed to pick a more appropriate name for a company in Japan. Though I used a completely different name, the product that I wanted to build was in the information management and artificial intelligence space.

The story of my (first?) company is for another time. In short, I realized that I should create the company in the U.S. if I was serious about it. I closed the Japanese company, and my wife and I started preparing to move to the U.S. During this time, I planned on using the Extellisys name for the U.S. company. I ran out of “runway” (money) while waiting for the visa, and we ended up staying in Japan.

I later decided to create this personal website, and I needed to choose a name. I did not want to use either company name. After much deliberation, I decided to use The TLD is part of the name: the initials can stand for either of the first or second names. The name is meaningful to me because of my history with it. I have changed/matured a lot since the age of seventeen, but I am still very interested in mathematics, information, and artificial intelligence!


Travis Cardwell