RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science

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Logo for “K computer”-“京”

Of 1,529 suggestions submitted by members of the general public, “” (in English, “K computer”) is the name that was selected for the Next-Generation Supercomputer in July 2010.

In Japanese, the kanji character “” stands for the number of 10 peta, or 10 to the 16th power, which is the planned processing speed of the new computer. The novelty of using a unit for a name made “” appealing, as did the fact that it was an original name in the domain of science and technology, a field which often gives names and nicknames to new devices. There are some who believe that “” originally represented a large gate, and that is appropriate too, since the computer represents a new gate to computational science, and the name thus links history with the future. Added to that, the character “” forms part of “Kei-soku”, which was the unofficial nickname given to the computer at the start of the project, so it is already familiar to those in the computational science community; “” also seemed the good choice given that kanji characters are full of meaning for Japanese people, who place great value on their sounds and harmony. Since it is only one character, it is simple and easy to understand, and it is also easy for non-Japanese to pronounce.

When writing the character for the logo, the popular calligrapher Souun Takeda infused it with the symbolic power of “K computer”- the foundation of Japan’s future in science and technology.

*Message from Calligrapher Souun Takeda