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December 27, 2005

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» And still waiting for the Long Tail main course... from The Working Network
Sorry for the wait sir. May I take your order? Yes please, I'll start with a top-o-the-power-curve appetizer, and have the Long Tail for my main course. Not familiar with the "Long Tail"? I read about it for the first time in Wired. It's been bl... [Read More]

» Long Tails and Zipfian distribution from Alex Barnett blog
Chris Anderson's has posted on the relation between the Long Tail and the Zipfian distribution. It reminded... [Read More]

» MSN Search interested in Zipfian distribution from Brian's Blog
The Longtail blog covers a recent discussion with an ex-Microsoft manager - and shows that MSN Search has an interest in Zipfian distribution. Basically, were talking about the longtail of search, but the ex-employee describes it in simpler te... [Read More]

Comments

Barry Ritholtz

That's Fascinating stuff to a numbers geek (like me) -- I would hope you include it in the book.

Of course, the more math, the less copies you will sell.

Whaich raises a question: Which part of the fat head/long tail do you hope the book occupies?

ecolson

Very interesting stuff. However, regarding this stat:

"Loosely speaking, if you divide the number of queries by 4, you'll get the frequency of the most popular query..."

My research shows that 4 is much too small of a constant to characterize the Search Head. That is to say, the head is not nearly that large - rather, you would need to divide the total queries by a number like 100 to 400 to get the frequency of the most popular query.

I would be curious to see where the stat came from.

Mathew

For the best on the long tail, Zipf, etc,
Try reading Mandelbrot and Taleb:
http://misbehaviorofmarkets.com
http://fooledbyrandomness.com

chris anderson

Barry,

Well, I'd like to put a good bit of math into the book and accept my inevitable place down the tail. But my publisher, whose money is paying the rent, would rather that I not. At the moment, there is exactly one equation in the book (unsurprisingly, y=ax^k), but we'll see if that survives the editing.

Adam Marsh

Funny, I just wrote a post on this exact topic:

"Loosely speaking, if you divide the number of queries by 4, you'll get the frequency of the most popular query."

This says that in a Zipfian distribution, the top bin gets 25% of the total. As I detail in my post, the percentage of the total in the top bin depends upon the number of bins, assuming that the distribution follows an exact inverse power law. According to this reasoning, if the top query gets 25% of the total queries, there were less than 100 queries!

Of course, in fitting real data to a power law all kinds of offsets, etc. are swept under the rug, so this isn't really a fair thing to say -- but it is an interesting topic in general. You can find more on similar long tail / power law stuff here, here, and here.

Michiel

Doesn't have a lot to do with the Tail, but dr. Watson: I turn it off. On all workstations. People don't get it, or get annoyed. They are much happier when the application just crashes and they can restart it.

MelbournePhilosopher

I came here from out-of-context. Frequency of *what*, measured in units of what, according to whom?

Cheers,
-MP

Mendy

This says that in a Zipfian distribution, the top bin gets 25% of the total. As I detail in my post, the percentage of the total in the top bin depends upon the number of bins

Arik

That is to say, the head is not nearly that large - rather, you would need to divide the total queries by a number like 100 to 400 to get the frequency of the most popular query.

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Tidbits

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!