Sunday, October 17, 2010

Benford's Law -- from Wolfram MathWorld

Benford's Law -- from Wolfram MathWorld: Benford's law applies not only to scale-invariant data, but also to numbers chosen from a variety of different sources. Explaining this fact requires a more rigorous investigation of central limit-like theorems for the mantissas of random variables under multiplication. As the number of variables increases, the density function approaches that of the above logarithmic distribution. Hill (1998) rigorously demonstrated that the "distribution of distributions" given by random samples taken from a variety of different distributions is, in fact, Benford's law (Matthews).

One striking example of Benford's law is given by the 54 million real constants in Plouffe's "Inverse Symbolic Calculator" database, 30% of which begin with the digit 1. Taking data from several disparate sources, the table below shows the distribution of first digits as compiled by Benford (1938) in his original paper.

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