power laws

Rousseau Ronald ronald.rousseau at KH.KHBO.BE
Mon Jan 17 03:19:51 EST 2000

Dear Colleagues,

May I point out that 'Lotka's law' studied by information scientists since
1926 is a power law. So is 'Zipf's law'. As far as I see it, information
scientists have studied power laws since 'always'.

The novelty of Sylvan Katz' approach lies in the fact that he has found
new applications for these ubiquitous - power law - regularities.

Ronald Rousseau
KHBO - Zeedijk 101
B-8400  Oostende  Belgium

On Sat, 15 Jan 2000, Charles H. Davis wrote:

> Dear Dr. Katz:
> Your communication was most welcome.  I've been trying for some time to
> call power curves to the attention of the information science community.
> When I spoke with late Derek Price at an ASIS meeting in Banff in 1979, he
> told me that he had "...thrown out a number of 'outliers'."
> See:
> D.J. de S. Price, "A General Theory of Bibliometric and Other Cumulative
> Advantage Processes," JASIS 27:292-306 (1976).
> As a fellow physical scientist, I knew this was standard operating
> procedure, but it worried me as he used the plural, not the singular.  It
> has since come to my attention that acknowledgments follow a power curve
> rather than an "ordinary" exponential distribution.  I'm now suspicious
> about citation analysis generally and believe you or someone else should
> pursue this idea.
> See also:
> Davis, Charles H. and Blaise Cronin, "Acknowledgments and Intellectual
> Indebtedness: A Bibliometric Conjecture," Journal of the American
> Society for Information Science 44(10):590-592 (December 1993).
> All this has has implications for how scientists actually do their work:
> They may be as guilty of appeal to authority as historians.  What an
> appalling thought!
> Please keep up the good work and stay in touch.  Thanks to the Internet,
> we can now do such things easily.  Like you, I welcome observations from
> all our colleagues.
> It's a new age.
> Cordially,
> Charles Davis
> ========================================================================
> Charles H. Davis, Ph.D., Senior Fellow          | Professor Emeritus
> School of Library and Information Science       |        GSLIS
> Indiana University at Bloomington               | University of Illinois
> (812) 331-1322  Fax: (812) 855-6166             |    Urbana-Champaign
> http://memex.lib.indiana.edu/davisc/davisc.html |
> ========================================================================

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