Steve Miller


In-person events are suspended until further notice. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is now also closed. If you are a member of the Vassar Community, check out the Department of Athletics & Physical Education’s new virtual health & fitness program. Meanwhile, we urge everyone to comply with Gov. Cuomo’s executive order by maintaining a six-foot distance from others in public and washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019


12:30 pm


Rockefeller Hall 307-Lecture Room

Benford's Law, or Why the IRS cares about the Riemann Zeta Function and Number Theory (and why you should too!)
Steven J. Miller, Williams College

Abstract: Many systems exhibit a digit bias. For example, the first digit
base 10 of the Fibonacci numbers or of 2^n equals 1 about 30% of the time;
the IRS uses this digit bias to detect fraudulent corporate tax returns.
This phenomenon, known as Benford's Law, was first noticed by observing
which pages of log tables were most worn from age -- it's a good thing
there were no calculators 100 years ago! We'll discuss the general theory
and application, talk about some fun examples (ranging from the 3x+1
problem to the Riemann zeta function as time permits), and discuss some
current open problems suitable for undergraduate research projects.

Sponsored by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Diane Winkler

Mathematics Department