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  • Karine Megerdoomian

Explaining Zipf's Law

ONE OF THE MOST PUZZLING phenomena in bibliometrics-and, more broadly, in quantitative linguistics-is Zipf’s law. As one commentator, the statistician Gustav Herdan, has put it: “Mathematicians believe in [Zipf’s law] because they think that linguists have established it to be a linguistic law, and linguists believe in it because they, on their part, think that mathematicians have established it to be a mathematical law."

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