07 January 2009

Dictionaries -- not just for looking up words!

Robert W. Jernigan, A photographic view of cumulative distribution functions, Journal of Statistics Education Volume 16, Number 1 (2008). via reddit. Many dictionaries have little squares on the outside of the page, positioned according to the location of the words on that page in the alphabet. These are an approximation of the cumulative distribution function of the first letter of a randomly selected word. (I say an approximation; this would be exactly true if words with each first letter had equally long definitions on average.)

Jernigan also has a blog, statpics, which is "devoted to images that illustrate statistical ideas"; not surprisingly, he wrote about this.

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