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Tag: license plate

Improve your nation’s Scrabble championship performance and learn new and exotic words with this one amazing license plate proposal! Call the DMV now and reserve a new plate!


English has a wide variety of rarely-used short words that are extremely useful in various word games (e.g. Scrabble, Words With Friends, Bananagrams), and not in very many other situations.

Specifically, there are (in the 1993 FreeBSD dictionary that comes with Mac OS X), a total of:

  • 139 two-letter words
    1294 three-letter words
    4994 four-letter words

…out of the 234,936 words in the 1934 Webster’s Second International dictionary, according to the following commands:

grep -E -i '^[A-Z]{2}$' /usr/share/dict/words | tr 'a-z' 'A-Z' | sort -u | wc -l  --> Result: 139 two-letter words

grep -E -i '^[A-Z]{3}$' /usr/share/dict/words | tr 'a-z' 'A-Z' | sort -u | wc -l  --> Result: 1294 three-letter words

grep -E -i '^[A-Z]{4}$' /usr/share/dict/words | tr 'a-z' 'A-Z' | sort -u | wc -l  --> Result: 4994 four-letter words

The issue:

This is a fairly large set of words that a person would need to know at minimum in order to be a pro at a word game.

In order to make our nation more competitive at international word game tournaments, something will need to be done.


Car license plates should incorporate the following: a short word (from the set of valid words above), plus the definition of that word (Figure 1).

Then, as people are stuck in traffic every day (or are waiting for a bus), they can learn new words just by observing the nearby cars!

As a bonus, this may make drivers more attentive of the in front of them.


Fig. 1: These proposed license plate numbers contain an uncommon English word and its definition. Top: “AIT.” Bottom: “EME.”

“Grassroots” Alternative Proposal:

If you don’t want to wait for your state to implement this new license plate design, you can still implement this idea right now by just making your own bumper sticker with a word & definition on it. Put the sticker on the back of your car, and you’re done!

PROS: Increases literacy and national performance in esoteric word games.

CONS: May encourage extreme tailgating (in order to read the tiny text on the license plates), which could lead to more traffic accidents. This could be solved by making the license plates huge, or using a set of bumper stickers instead.

Improve the odds of finding a lost pet with this over-engineered license-plate-based system! The ultimate computer vision project for a machine learning startup.


“Lost cat” and “lost dog” signs are often placed up on telephone poles (Fig. 1), but it’s unlikely that a specific person who sees a lost pet will also have seen the sign (or even know that the pet is actually lost in the first place).



Fig. 1: A person who sees this sign will know to be on the lookout for a lost snake, but the chances of seeing both the snake AND the poster are quite low.


In order to add more people to the lost-pet-searching process, the proposed system is as follows:

On the searchers side:

  • Car owners can add a camera to their car (see license plate example in Figure 2) that constantly scans for unidentified animals. This requires no effort on the part of the driver.
  • The camera saves snapshots and GPS coordinates for every animal it sees, and uploads these to a “Find a Lost Pet” web site. Many of these animals are probably not lost, or even pets!

On the pet-recoverers side:

  • Anyone with a lost pet can post the details of their lost animal and a reward to the “Find a Lost Pet” site. Ideal information would include a photo, approximate location, and the owner’s contact information.

Once the “Find a Lost Pet” image analysis system detects a match between an uploaded image and a lost pet, a “bounty” is issued for the recovery of that pet, and nearby drivers are notified.

Finally, assuming the animal is safely returned in the same number of pieces that it was expected to be in (generally this number is “one”), the bounty is split three ways: the web site, camera owner, and animal-recoverer all get a fraction of the total reward. This aligns everyone’s incentives and encourages people to install pet-scanning cameras in the hope of a payout.


Fig. 2: This license plate camera is a “dog-scanner” camera that is constantly on the lookout for unidentified potentially-lost animals. Backup cameras like this already exist, so producing the hardware for this system would be relatively straightforward.

PROS: This system will help find lost pets, and definitely won’t be repurposed to create a totalitarian police state.

CONS: Not especially useful in finding burrowed or aquatic animals, so try not to lose one of those.