Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The observation of the unusually skewed distribution of word frequencies by Jean-Baptiste Estoup and George Kingsley Zipf sparked the interest of the young mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot, and was the first step toward his discovery of fractal geometry. This power-law distribution is mathematically related to Shannon entropy and information theory. The topology of the lexicon appears to resemble the small world networks of the Internet and the World Wide Web, which are likewise dynamically maintained by a community of users. There are also intriguingly similar indications about the structure and functioning of the brain.

Keywords: Estoup, Zipf’s law, Mandelbrot, Shannon, power laws, entropy, information theory, small world networks

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.