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Culture & Religion

Shakespeare’s CPU

A new computer algorithm analyzes the frequency of unique words used by authors in an attempt to quantify literary style.

“What’s the difference between Shakespeare and Dan Brown? According to a study in the New Journal of Physics, part of the difference lies in the number and frequency of the words they use. By analyzing the works of Herman Melville, Thomas Hardy, and D. H. Lawrence, researchers argued, according to the BBC, that ‘counting the number of unique words as a particular author’s works get longer and longer’ can be used to construct a ‘unique word’ curve which functions as a ‘linguistic fingerprint.’ Really? While some folks call it a breakthrough, others are skeptical. Even if this is true, they ask, what’s the purpose of a complicated equation to confirm what humans already knew?”


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