Abstract: If one makes a list of the areas of all 200 countries in the world, one finds that around 30 percent of those numbers begin with the digit 1, around 17 percent begin with the digit 2, while only around 5 percent begin with the digit 9. Similar frequencies of first digits have been observed in all sorts of real world data—from populations of cities to heights of tallest buildings to numbers in tax returns and numbers of Twitter followers. This near-universal phenomenon is called Benford's Law. In the first part of this talk I will give an overview of Benford's Law and its applications and explain the math behind it. In the second part I will focus on Benford's Law for mathematical sequences such as the powers of 2. I will describe an undergraduate research project that started out back in 2015 as an IGL project, then turned into a multi-year research adventure full of surprises and unexpected twists, and ended up being the most fun, rewarding, and interesting undergraduate research project I have ever supervised.
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