Analyzing Big Data with Benford’s Law: A Lesson for the Classroom

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Susan W. Lanham


First Digit Law, Phenomenological Law, Mathematical Phenomenon, Probability


Most literature related to Benford’s Law discusses what the law can be used for and how it works but fails to address effective methods and procedures for teaching the law to students. This article examines existing information resources to determine the most effective methods and procedures used to explain this Law to those who have no experience with it. A contribution to knowledge is made by providing step by step instructional approaches for teaching Benford’s Law to students that are tied to existing literature. Benford’s Law is a fascinating lesson for students who have been exposed to statistical and mathematical concepts for as long as they can remember yet know nothing of the law’s existence. This lesson is suitable for any introductory statistics or mathematics course where students are learning about probability. The Law has a practical application in the field of business and can also be taught as part of a fraud examination, data analytics, or auditing course.


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