Recent Advances in the Theory and Applications of Benford’s Law

Event Date: 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Event Date Details: 

Refreshments served at 3:15 PM

Event Location: 

  • South Hall 5607F

Dr. Theodore P. Hill (Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Georgia Tech and Research Scholar in Residence, California State Polytechnic Univ.)

Title: Recent Advances in the Theory and Applications of Benford’s Law

Abstract:Benford’s law, an empirical statistical phenomenon first observed in the nineteenth century, is now being used to detect earthquakes and alterations in digital images, to analyze math models and computational errors in scientific calculations, and to check for fraud in tax and voting returns. Benford’s law predicts that the significant digits of many data sets will be logarithmically distributed, rather than uniformly distributed as might be expected; for example, more than 30% of the leading decimal digits will be 1, and fewer than 5% will be 9. This talk will briefly survey both new empirical evidence of Benford's law in natural sciences, and very recent mathematical discoveries that help further explain the ubiquity of this distribution. Several of the latest applications will also be described, along with open problems in probability and statistics, dynamical systems, number theory, and differential equations. The talk will be aimed for the non-specialist.