The following graph shows the number of digits in as a function of .

When I was in school, I stared at this graph for weeks, if not months, trying to figure out an equation that would fit these points. And I never could figure it out.

In retrospect, my biggest mistake was thinking that the formula had to be something like , where the exponent was a little larger than 1. After all, the graph is clearly not a straight line, but it’s also not as curved as a parabola.

What I didn’t know then, but know now, is that there’s a really easy way to determine to determine if a data set exhibits power-law behavior. If , then

.

If we make the substitutions , , and , then this equation becomes

In other words, if the data exhibits power-law behavior, then the log-transformed data would look very much like a straight line. Well, here’s the graph of after applying the transformation:

Ignoring the first couple of pots, the dots show an ever-so-slight concave down pattern, but not enough that would have discouraged me from blindly trying a pattern like . However, because these points do not lie on a straight line and exhibit heteroscedastic behavior, my adolescent self was doomed to failure.

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