How Google got its mighty name – and the special maths meaning behind it

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Google is the world’s most used search engine and is likely a website you visit multiple times a day. However, what many don’t know is that behind the name lies a fascinating meaning. After all, when you have a tool as powerful as Google, you need a pretty mighty name to back it up.

Google began in 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The pair played around with several names before deciding on Google.

Originally, the search engine was going to be named BackRub because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site.

Eventually, BackRub was renamed Google, a play on the mathematical expression ‘Googol’, which is the number one followed by 100 zeros.

This name reflected the large quantity of information Google was able to provide.

In their original research paper, the Page and Brin said: “We chose our systems name, Google, because it is a common spelling of Googol and fits well with our goal of building very large scale search engines.”

In the present day, Google’s headquarters are situated in Mountain View, California and are known as The Googleplex, a play on ‘Googolplex’, which mathematically is much larger than a googol, and also reflects the headquarters itself being a complex of buildings.

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The term Googol stemmed from mathematician Edward Kasner in 1920. Whilst he was walking with his nephews Milton and Edwin, he asked them to think of a word that he could use to coin the large number.

When Milton responded with Googol and Googolplex for an even larger number, Kasner adopted it as the numbers’ official name.

Kasner wrote a book named ‘Mathematics and the Imagination’ in 1940 and it was then the term Googol was first popularised.

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