Carnegie Mellon University

Third-level Naming Conventions

Many departments within the university share the Carnegie Mellon network. In general, third-level domain names, which appear immediately before in a computer's full name, indicate the department owner or administrator of the machine.

The typical computer name at Carnegie Mellon follows this pattern: Machine-name is the name of the individual computer and org-name is the name of the department that owns the computer. For example, in the name, synergy is the machine name and as is the third-level domain abbreviation for Administrative Systems.

If there is no third-level domain name assigned to a computer, the university uses andrew as the default. For example, in the name, hamlet is the machine name, and andrew is the third-level domain name. Student-owned computers in residence halls are given res as default. 

Compare your computer name to a home address. Universities and other educational institutions all reside in the edu domain. If we consider the edu domain to be a state, like Pennsylvania, we can consider cmu to be a city within the state, and the third-level domain name to be a street within the city. Machine names, like synergy and hamlet, are the houses along the streets.

Because changes to the third-level domain name structure require coordination with multiple departments on campus, Computing Services tries to minimize the number of modifications by imposing restrictions on changes. Restrictions ensure, too, that the third-level domain structure remains  manageable and easy to maintain.

Using the home address analogy explained above, adding houses to an existing street is simple, but creating a new street requires a great deal more work. In addition, adding new streets where only one house will be built is expensive and creates a great deal of maintenance.


A single third-level domain will be created for departments or administrative group if it meets the following criteria:

  1. Fifty (50) or more computers are:
    • owned by a single administrative or academic department or other organizational group, and comprise the whole of the computers owned by that department or group
    • are maintained by a designated system administrator or team of system administrators(s).
  2. The group or department is one of the university's colleges (CIT, MCS, SCS, etc.) or any academic department that issues undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degrees.
  3. The group or department is headed by a Vice-President.
  4. The group or department reports directly to the Provost.

Note: The third-level domain name must identify the group, for example,,, Only one third-level domain may be requested for each group.

The following naming conventions are not permitted:

  • A name deemed by the university to be offensive or obscene.
  • A name that misrepresents the machine by making it appear to be a "service" system (FTP-ANDREW, VICE4, etc.) or a system representing a CMU department or group (Housing, Registrar, Psychology, etc.) when it does not.
  • A name that places the machine in an inaccurate domain. For example, the third-level domain name of a Psychology Department machine cannot be identified in the domain.