Do cents follow Benford’s Law?

October 5, 2011 | dan

Benford's law is an amazing thing. If you know the probability distribution that classes of "natural" numbers should have, you can detect where people might be faking data: phony tax returns, bogus scientific studies, etc. [Read more...]

Dollars and cents: How are you at estimating the total bill?

September 30, 2011 | dan

When estimating the cost of a bunch of purchases, a useful heuristic is rounding to the nearest dollar. (In fact, on US income tax returns, one is allowed to omit the cents). If prices were uniformly distributed, the following two heuristics would be equally accurate: * Rounding each item up or ... [Read more...]

Tipping heuristics

April 28, 2010 | dan

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE CALCULATIONS MADE SIMPLE Yes, we all know how to calculate 15% or 20% exactly, but it’s fun to use tipping heuristics and even more fun to make crowded graphs of how they compare to each other. (Sorry for the junky chart. Open for suggestions, in the words of Tom ... [Read more...]

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