Quality & Quantity

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 713–731

Zipf’s law—another view

  • Ioan-Iovitz Popescu
  • Gabriel Altmann
  • Reinhard Köhler

DOI: 10.1007/s11135-009-9234-y

Cite this article as:
Popescu, II., Altmann, G. & Köhler, R. Qual Quant (2010) 44: 713. doi:10.1007/s11135-009-9234-y


In many scientific disciplines phenomena are observed which are usually described using one of the various versions of the so-called Zipf’s Law. As no single formula could be found so far which would be able to sufficiently fit to all data more and more variants (modifications, ad-hoc formulas, derivations etc.) are created, each of which agrees quite well with some given data sets but fail with others. The present paper proposes a new approach to the problem, based on the assumption that every data set which displays a Zipf-like structure is composed of several system components. A corresponding model is presented and tested on data from 100 texts from 20 languages.


Zipf’s law Rank-frequency distribution Synthetic language 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ioan-Iovitz Popescu
    • 1
  • Gabriel Altmann
    • 2
  • Reinhard Köhler
    • 3
  1. 1.BucharestRomania
  2. 2.Sprachwissenschaftsliches InstitutUniversität BouchumLüdenscheidGermany
  3. 3.TrierGermany

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