Zipf's Law

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pages: 339 words: 112,979

Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Mahatma Gandhi, music of the spheres, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, Steven Pinker, Zipf's Law

Higher again, only movement is news. Then only changes in rate or direction of movement. In Barlow's terms derived from the theory of codes, we could say that the nervous system uses short, economical words for messages that occur frequently and are expected; long, expensive words for messages that occur rarely and are not expected. It is a bit like language, in which (the generalization is called Zipf's Law) the shortest words in the dictionary are the ones most often used in speech. To push the idea to an extreme, most of the time the brain does not need to be told anything because what is going on is the norm. The message would be redundant. The brain is protected from redundancy by a hierarchy of filters, each filter tuned to remove expected features of a certain kind. It follows that the set of nervous filters constitutes a kind of summary description of the norm, of the statistical properties of the world in which the animal lives.


pages: 349 words: 114,038

Culture & Empire: Digital Revolution by Pieter Hintjens

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4chan, airport security, anti-communist, anti-pattern, barriers to entry, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, blockchain, business climate, business intelligence, business process, Chelsea Manning, clean water, congestion charging, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, Debian, Edward Snowden, failed state, financial independence, Firefox, full text search, German hyperinflation, global village, GnuPG, Google Chrome, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, informal economy, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Rulifson, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, national security letter, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, packet switching, patent troll, peak oil, pre–internet, private military company, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, Skype, slashdot, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route, transaction costs, union organizing, web application, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero day, Zipf's Law

This is extraordinary, given that no money is actually being sent anywhere. It's just electronic messages. The biggest cost is probably the paper form one has to fill in, and the front office that types it in, and takes a copy of your ID "for security purposes." Now let's look at competitors. The largest competitor to Western Union is MoneyGram International, one tenth the size. There is a mathematical "power law" called Zipf's Law that models the distribution in natural systems such as free markets, earthquakes, cities in a country, and words in a language. Yes, all these follow the same rules of distribution. Normally, you'd expect the largest firm to be twice the size of its next competitor, three times the size of the one after, and so on. The data shows that Western Union, too large and too costly, has a monopoly over the money transfer market.


pages: 651 words: 180,162

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Air France Flight 447, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discrete time, double entry bookkeeping, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, financial independence, Flash crash, Gary Taubes, Gini coefficient, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, informal economy, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, mouse model, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Yogi Berra, Zipf's Law

Freidson, Eliot, 1970, Profession of Medicine: A Study of the Sociology of Applied Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. French, Roger, 2003, Medicine Before Science: The Rational and Learned Doctor from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Froot, K. A., 2001, “The Market for Catastrophe Risk: A Clinical Examination,” Journal of Financial Economics 60(2–3): 529–571. Fujiwara, Y., 2004, “Zipf Law in Firms Bankruptcy.” Physica A: Statistical and Theoretical Physics 337: 219–30. Fukumoto, S., and T. J. Martin, 2009, “Bone as an Endocrine Organ.” Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism 20: 230–236. Fuller, Steve, 2005, The Intellectual. Icon Books. García-Ballester, Luis, 1995, “Health and Medical Care in Medieval Galenism.” In Don Bates, ed., Knowledge and the Scholarly Medical Traditions.