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The Power of One

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Author:Robert Matthews, The New Scientist
Description: Benford's law demands that around 30 per cent of the numbers in a given data set will start with a 1, 18 per cent with a 2, right down to just 4.6 per cent starting with a 9. This essay provides a mathematical history behind the counterintuitive law, from Simon Newcomb's observation of the Grubby Pages Effect in books of logarithms, to Roger Pinkham's proof that Benford's law is the only way to distribute digits that has this property, to Theodore Hill's insights into the law as a "Distribution of Distributions." Also, anecdotes of applying Benford's law to detect fraud, and the Fibonacci sequence's conformity to the law. See also more articles about math from a variety of publications.

Levels: High School (9-12), College, Research
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles, Recreations
Math Topics: Patterns/Relationships, Number Theory, Fibonacci Sequence, Probability/Statistics, Data Analysis, Statistics

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