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Ferrer-i-Cancho, R. and Servedio, V. D. P. (2005) Can simple models explain Zipf's law in all cases? Glottometrics, 11:1--8.

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Abstract

H. Simon proposed a simple stochastic process for explaining Zipf's law for word frequencies. Here we introduce two similar generalizations of Simon's model that cover the same range of exponents as the standard Simon model. The mathematical approach followed minimizes the amount of mathematical background needed for deriving the exponent, compared to previous approaches to the standard Simon's model. Reviewing what is known from other simple explanations of Zipf's law, we conclude there is no single radically simple explanation covering the whole range of variation of the exponent of Zipf's law in humans. The meaningfulness of Zipf's law for word frequencies remains an open question.

Keywords: Zipf's law, Simon model, intermittent silence

BibTex
@article{ferrer05zipfLawSimpleModels,
  author={R. {Ferrer-i-Cancho} and Vito D.P. Servedio},
  title={Can simple models explain Zipf's law in all cases?},
  journal={Glottometrics},
  year={2005},
  volume={11},
  pages={1-8},
  url={http://groups.lis.illinois.edu/amag/langev/paper/ferrer05zipfLawSimpleModels.html},
  keywords={Zipf's law, Simon model, intermittent silence}
}