A novel method of stylometry based on the statistic of numerals

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A new method of statistical analysis of texts is suggested. The frequency distribution of the first significant digits in numerals of English-language texts is considered. We have taken into account cardinal as well as ordinal numerals expressed both in figures, and verbally. To identify the author’s use of numerals, we previously deleted from the text all idiomatic expressions and set phrases accidentally containing numerals, as well as itemizations and page numbers, etc. Benford’s law is found to hold approximately for the frequencies of various first significant digits of compound literary texts by different authors; a marked predominance of the digit 1 is observed. In coherent authorial texts, characteristic deviations from Benford’s law arise which are statistically stable significant author peculiarities that allow, under certain conditions, to consider the problem of authorship and distinguish between texts by different authors. The text should be large enough (at least about 200 kB). At the end of $\{1, 2, \ldots, 9\}$ digits row, the frequency distribution is subject to strong fluctuations and thus unrepresentative for our purpose. The aim of the theoretical explanation of the observed empirical regularity is not intended, which, however, does not preclude the applicability of the proposed methodology for text attribution. The approach suggested and the conclusions are backed by the examples of the computer analysis of works by W.M. Thackeray, M. Twain, R. L. Stevenson, J. Joyce, sisters Bront¨e, and J.Austen. On the basis of technique suggested, we examined the authorship of a text earlier ascribed to L. F. Baum (the result agrees with that obtained by different means). We have shown that the authorship of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” pertains to her, whereas the primary draft, “Go Set a Watchman”, seems to have been written in collaboration with Truman Capote. All results are confirmed on the basis of parametric Pearson’s chi-squared test as well as non-parametric Mann –Whitney U test and Kruskal –Wallis test.

Keywords: text attribution, first significant digit of numerals
Citation in English: Zenkov A.V. A novel method of stylometry based on the statistic of numerals // Computer Research and Modeling, 2017, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 837-850
DOI: 10.20537/2076-7633-2017-9-5-837-850

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