A good friend of mine many years ago mentioned Zipf’s Law to me one time during a discussion. I remember being fascinated by it – named after the linguist George Kingsley Zipf – and then moving on as your brain so often does. This was years before the notion of the “long tail” and other such power law notions were demonstrated by the Internet, among other things.
Today, Steven Strogatz, a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University, was the guest columnist for Olivia Judson’s “The Wild Side” blog on the New York Times site. His column, titled “Math and the City“, brought Zipf back to life again for me. If you’ve not read it, be sure to check it out – fascinating stuff!