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FYI: Learn the ABCs of MIT without a Ph.D.

If you're the new AO at the SSM and are confused by a mention in ROI of the AACSB, don't fret.

Thanks to a new online dictionary of Institute acronyms and abbreviations compiled by Janet Snover, special assistant to the executive vice president, no one need be puzzled any longer by this alphabet soup of terms at MIT.

The dictionary had its origins in a paper listing that the MIT Libraries published in 1989, but a lot of new acronyms and abbreviations have come into use since then. Snover began collecting them from a variety of sources as a "back-burner project." It's one that she notes will never really be finished.

"MIT is clearly a place that's fond of long names for programs and organizations, so it's no wonder that we use acronyms and abbreviations as a kind of shorthand," she said. "But I know some newcomers to the community have trouble figuring out what the heck we're talking about, and I thought a revised dictionary might help them, as well as those who've been here a while."

Amid the steady stream of new web sites people learn about each day, this one stood out as a service sorely needed. Snover notified some communications colleagues last Thursday that the dictionary was available on the web, and the news spread like wildfire. Within hours, she was deluged with e-mails of thanks.

"As a relative newcomer to MIT, I can't tell you what a boon this list is! I plan to circulate it to my colleagues," wrote one person. Another wrote, "Thanks from a three-decade employee who is still learning MIT acronyms!"

The dictionary is also one of the "useful links" at the top of the "About MIT" page at, which is accessible by clicking on "About MIT" from the MIT home page.

Snover welcomes suggestions of other MIT acronyms and abbreviations missing from the site, which will be updated periodically. Contact her at

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 14, 2002.

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