Mathematics Senior Showcase 2020

Document Type

Student Presentation

12-1-2020

Sam Coskey

Abstract

My Poster is on the history and application of Benford’s law. This is a law that states that the leading digit of a set of numbers will be the number 1 approximately 30% of the time. This is a natural phenomenon and what I mean by that is that in order for this law to hold the numbers cannot be assigned. They must be random as in financial statements or logs. This law does not work on sets that are assigned such as time sheets and addresses. You will see in my poster that the original person to discover this phenomenon was actually Simon Newcomb. Simon Newcomb noticed this trend of smaller digits being used more often when he was looking through logs. He was pretty much ignored until Benford decided to test Newcomb’s theory in 1938. Benford ran a test on hundreds of different data sets and found that the leading digit was a 1 approximately 30% of the time. From this test he wrote the paper titled “Anomalous Numbers”. This paper gave Benford credit for the discovery.

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