Zipf's law, power laws and maximum entropy

Matt Visser
2013 New Journal of Physics  
Zipf's law, and power laws in general, have attracted and continue to attract considerable attention in a wide variety of disciplines - from astronomy to demographics to software structure to economics to linguistics to zoology, and even warfare. A recent model of random group formation [RGF] attempts a general explanation of such phenomena based on Jaynes' notion of maximum entropy applied to a particular choice of cost function. In the present article I argue that the cost function used in
more » ... function used in the RGF model is in fact unnecessarily complicated, and that power laws can be obtained in a much simpler way by applying maximum entropy ideas directly to the Shannon entropy subject only to a single constraint: that the average of the logarithm of the observable quantity is specified.
doi:10.1088/1367-2630/15/4/043021 fatcat:75tsiiyak5gdtnwuqswz6s6gz4