DARPA photo

Yesterday, scientists, engineers, and project managers gathered in the Pentagon’s courtyard to share with each other and the media the latest progress on their projects. All the projects were from DARPA, the Pentagon’s future-looking projects agency, which wants to design, anticipate, and survive the future of war. The event was something like a mad science fair.

One of the stranger parts of the Demo Day is that everyone involved in these projects really likes puns. Of the 68 projects on display, fully half had names that were both acronyms and puns, or some similar form of wordplay. Below, the names from DARPA Day 2016:

  1. Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS)
  2. Restoring Active Memory (RAM)
  3. Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX)
  4. Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx)
  5. Cross Domain Maritime Surveillance and Targeting (CDMaST)
  6. Spatial, Temporal, and Orientation Information in Contested Environments (STOIC)
  7. Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV)
  8. Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System (MAD-FIRES)
  9. Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (Tern)
  10. Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting (DASH)
  11. High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS)
  12. Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS)
  13. Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents (ACDC)
  14. Intense and Compact Neutron Sources (ICONS)
  15. Robust Automatic Transcription of Speech (RATS)
  16. Broad Operational Language Translation (BOLT)
  17. Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense (SHIELD)
  18. Circuit Realization At Faster Timescales (CRAFT)
  19. Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR)
  20. Unconventional Processing of Signals for Intelligent Data Exploitation (UPSIDE)
  21. Photonically Optimized Embedded Microprocessors (POEM)
  22. Power Efficiency Revolution for Embedded Computing Technologies (PERFECT)
  23. Pixel Network for Dynamic Visualization (PIXNET)
  24. System of Systems Integration Technology and Experimentation (SoSITE)
  25. Target Recognition and Adaption in Contested Environments (TRACE)
  26. Communications under Extreme RF Spectrum Conditions (CommEx)
  27. Dynamic Network Adaptation for Mission Optimization (DyNAMO)
  28. Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE)
  29. Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC)
  30. Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout (QuASAR)
  31. Program in Ultrafast Laser Science and Engineering (PULSE)
  32. Complex Adaptive System Composition And Design Environment (CASCADE)
  33. Enabling Quantification of Uncertainty in Physical Systems (EQUiPS)
  34. Simplifying Complexity in Scientific Discovery (SIMPLEX)

Why all the puns? Some of it is fun, and some of it has to do with the science of memory, too. It’s much easier to remember MAD-FIRES than Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System. MAD-FIRES.

Update 5/13/16 11:13 AM: DARPA tweeted one more acronym to the author of this piece: