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  • Blog Post: Big head, long tail

    Here's a graph of the population size of the one hundred largest urban areas in Canada : (Click on the graph for a larger version.) Notice how there is an enormous spiky "head" on this graph: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are quite large cities by any measure. Then there is an immediate sharp...
  • Blog Post: Floating Point And Benford's Law, Part Two

    A number of readers asked for an explanation of my offhand comment that Benford's Law can be used to show that binary is the best base for doing floating point math. One of the desired properties of a floating point system is that the "representation error" is as small as possible. For example, suppose...
  • Blog Post: Benford's Law

    While I was poking through my old numeric analysis textbooks to refresh my memory for this series on floating point arithmetic, I came across one of my favourite weird facts about math. A nonzero base-ten integer starts with some digit other than zero. You might naively expect that given a bunch of ...
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