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Benford's LawTheory and Applications$
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Steven J. Miller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691147611

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691147611.001.0001

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Benfordʼs Law in the Natural Sciences

Benfordʼs Law in the Natural Sciences

(p.290) Chapter Sixteen Benfordʼs Law in the Natural Sciences
Benford's Law

David Hoyle

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the occurrence of Benford's law within the natural sciences, emphasizing that Benford's law is to be expected within many scientific data sets. This is a consequence of the reasonable assumption that a particular scientific process is scale invariant, or nearly scale invariant. The chapter reviews previous work from many fields showing a number of data sets that conform to Benford's law. In each case the underlying scale invariance, or mechanism that leads to scale invariance, is identified. Having established that Benford's law is to be expected for many data sets in the natural sciences, the second half of the chapter highlights generic potential applications of Benford's law. Finally, direct applications of Benford's law are highlighted, whereby the Benford distribution is used in a constructive way rather than simply assessing an already existing data set.

Keywords:   natural sciences, scale invariance, generic potential applications, direct applications, Benford distribution, scientific data sets

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