Benford's Law

A phenomenological law also called the first digit law, first digit phenomenon, or leading digit phenomenon. Benford's law states that in listings, tables of statistics, etc., the digit 1 tends to occur with probability , much greater than the expected 11.1% (i.e., one digit out of 9). Benford's law can be observed, for instance, by examining tables of logarithms and noting that the first pages are much more worn and smudged than later pages (Newcomb 1881). While Benford's law unquestionably applies to many situations in the real world, a satisfactory explanation has been given only recently through the work of Hill (1998). Benford's law was used by the character Charlie Eppes as an analogy to help solve a series of high burglaries in the Season 2 "The Running Man" episode (2006) of the television crime drama NUMB3RS. Benford's law applies to data that are not dimensionless, so the numerical values of the data depend on the units. If there exists a universal probability distribution over such numbers, then it must be invariant under a change of scale, so (1) If , then , and normalization implies gives (2) having solution . Although this is not a proper probability distribution .

Differentiating with respect to and setting

(since it diverges), both the laws of physics and human convention impose cutoffs. For example, randomly selected street addresses obey something close to Benford's law.

Hill (1998) rigorously demonstrated that the "distribution of distributions" given by random .09691 5 0.30103 2 0.124939 4 0.0457575 However... but also to numbers chosen from a variety of different sources.If many powers of 10 lie between the cutoffs.176091 3 0. Benford's law applies not only to scale-invariant data. .0791812 6 0.0669468 7 0. 9. Explaining this fact requires a more rigorous investigation of central limit-like theorems for the mantissas of random variables under multiplication. the density function approaches that of the above logarithmic distribution. As the number of variables increases.0511525 9 0. illustrated above and tabulated below. then the probability that the first (decimal) digit is is given by a logarithmic distribution (3) for .0579919 8 0. 1 0..

7 2. 6 8.5 1.(Matthews). 6 30. 30% of which begin with the digit 1.1 3. 6.8 10. 2 12. 0 18.8 4.9 159 . 8 4 11.9 104 D 6.6 5. One striking example of Benford's law is given by the 54 million real constants in Plouffe's "Inverse Symbolic Calculator" database.6 690 H Mol.1 5 6 7 8 9 sample s 335 7.2 4.0 100 E 4. 0 33. col . the table below shows the distribution of first digits as compiled by Benford (1938) in his original paper.1 1389 F 6. 2 4. 0 26.3 6. 8 12.5 4. 6 5.0 5.1 B 7. 8 11. 3 8. 4 18.2 10. 4 25.1 4. Lost 8. 9 15.1 7.0 2.8 1.0 3259 C Constants Newspaper s Specific Heat Pressure 8.8 3.0 6.0 5.1 3. Wgt. 2 23.1 3. 3 30.6 10. 1 2 16. 7 27.4 5.2 4.8 12. 9 3 10. 0 14. 4 20.1 5.0 2.2 10.7 703 G H.2 8.2 1800 I Drainage 8.2 5. 6 9. 8 10. A title Rivers. Taking data from several disparate sources.0 10.1 2.2 5. 9 41.0 5. 0 29. 6 8. 7 14.4 4. 6 5.7 5. 4 14. 4 18.7 4. 3 18. Area Population 1 31. 0 24. 4 13.P. 0 16.

8 6.5 8.8 707 P 9.9 4.5 4.4 8. 3 12.3 4.5 3.6 6. 5 5.0 7.7 6. 6 12.0 8.5 7. 5 18.2 8. 47.9 4.1 5.8 5.8 7.4 5.5 91 K 9. 1 14.4 3. 9 32. 6 17. 9 25. 4 32.3 5. 2 25.4 5. 8 33.4 4.0 5.2 4. 4 27. 7 31. 6 14.4 8.8 7. 3 19.7 14. 1 9.3 8.1 4. 6 18.1 5. . 0 15. 3 14.6 4. 4 12. 6 18.4 1165 R Addresses 8. 8 17.4 6. 0 9. 0 28.5 5. 2 16.8 4.1 418 Average Probable Error 9. 8 18.1 7.4 5.6 3.9 5000 L Design Reader's Digest Cost Data X-Ray Volts Am. 1 12.8 7.9 5.6 560 M 7.6 7.2 308 N 9.7 1011 .5 6.0 1458 Q 8. 8.7 5.8 4.4 5.8 6.2 4.5 900 T Death Rate 6.6 5.5 10.1 6. 7 26.5 4. 7 20. 4 6.5 8.1 741 O 8. League Blackbody 7.0 5. 7 12. 0 18.0 6.0 342 S . 4 10.5 4.7 6. 5 17.4 7.8 10.0 7. 0 30.J Atomic Wgt.4 6.7 5. 3 27.

3. .. 4. 2. . 6. 1. 1. 3. 5. 8. A055440 1. 1. A055441 1. 9. 5. 1. 3.. . largest remainder. 6. method Sainte-Lague d'Hondt largest remainder.. 1. 1... 2. 4. 1. 1. 5. 1. 4. 1. . Hare quotas Sloane sequence A055439 1. 7. 2. 2. 8. 2. 4. 6.. 7. 2. 6. 1. 2. 5. 7. 1. SEE ALSO: Logarithmic Distribution ..Benford's Law using a number of different methods.. 2. 8. 3. Droop quotas A055442 1. 3.

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