'dot' name (etymology)

I have been wondering where the name dot comes from.
I skimmed through the original 90’s papers, but didn’t find anything.

  • Gansner et al., “A Technique for Drawing Directed Graphs,” 1993
  • E. Koutsofios and S. North, “Drawing graphs with dot,” 1992

On the docs site (DOT Language | Graphviz), DOT is capitalized, suggesting an acronym. (In the original papers however, it is never capitalized).

The predecessor of dot is ‘dag’, which presumably comes from Directed acyclic graph - Wikipedia

But no idea what DOT could stand for.

@erg @scnorth what was the inspiration for the name?

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The original implementation was called dag, for the obvious reason. The re-implementation was called dot, as in Dag Of Tomorrow. Also, @scnorth chose it to honor his mother, who was known as Dot.


I was not aware of this backstory either. Thanks for the explanation, Emden. So should we be spelling it DOT or Dot or dot?

Wonderful. Thanks for sharing this history