Slashdot | New Pattern Found In Prime Numbers

Slashdot | New Pattern Found In Prime Numbers.

You just don’t see news about the Prime Numbers everyday. The new pattern is a generalization of Benford’s Law. When accountants look for fraud, let’s say as they might have as part of the recent “Stress Test” that banks were given, they are guided by Benford’s Law, which is also called the “first-digit law.” That means they examine a spreadsheet full of values, and instead of the leading digits being random, as one might assume they would be, in a financial report of some kind, the digit 1 appears one third of the time, and the larger digits like 9 hardly ever appear as the leading digit in a set of numbers.

In 1972, Hal Varian suggested that the law could be used to detect possible fraud in lists of socio-economic data submitted in support of public planning decisions. Based on the plausible assumption that people who make up figures tend to distribute their digits fairly uniformly, a simple comparison of first-digit frequency distribution from the data with the expected distribution according to Benford’s law ought to show up any anomalous results.[8] Following this idea, Mark Nigrini showed that Benford’s law could be used as an indicator of accounting and expenses fraud.[9]

from Wikipedia

This distribution of initial or leading digits results from a logarithmic distribution of numbers (important point to recall about logarithmic numbers: their distribution is not linear.) This interesting distribution is found in all sorts of sets of numbers we use in daily life, for example utility bills, street addresses, lengths of rivers, death rates, and others. The big deal is its application as noted, to discover made up figures and fake data.

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