math

The Zipf mystery

This is brilliant. It’s long, it’s complex, and you may not think you’re interested in it in the first few minutes, but stick with it and you’ll learn, among other things, why online social popularity leads to more online social popularity (it’s called “preferential attachment processes”).

Wow.

I struggled to explain a bit of this a while back when I discussed Flickr’s Explore feature and the possible effects it has on photographers who are concerned with it (social popularity building more social popularity).

I’m not a linguist, a mathematician or a scientist of any kind, but I am interested in patterns of all kinds and this is a behind the scenes look at a collection of patterns and the processes behind them.

I like the various Vsauce videos, produced and hosted by Michael Stevens. Here’s their youTube channel: Vsauce.

References

Zipf’s law
Zipf–Mandelbrot law
Hapax legomenon

[via Devour]