Zipf's Law Definition

A pattern of distribution in certain data sets, notably words in a linguistic corpus, by which the frequency of an item is inversely proportional to its ranking by frequency. In such a distribution, frequency declines sharply as rank number increases: a small number of items occur very frequently and a large number of items occur very rarely.
American Heritage

The fact that many types of data studied in the physical and social sciences can be approximated with a Zipfian distribution.


Origin of Zipf's Law

  • After its formulator George Kingsley Zipf (1902–1950), American linguist

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • After George Kingsley Zipf (1902-1950), American linguist.

    From Wiktionary

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Zipf's law