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.
Origin of Zipf's law After its formulator George Kingsley Zipf (1902-1950), American linguist
- The fact that many types of data studied in the physical and social sciences can be approximated with a Zipfian distribution.
After George Kingsley Zipf (1902-1950), American linguist.