The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 205, Issue 1, pp 1-26

First online:

Dragon-kings: Mechanisms, statistical methods and empirical evidence

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This introductory article presents the special Discussion and Debate volume “From black swans to dragon-kings, is there life beyond power laws?” We summarize and put in perspective the contributions into three main themes: (i) mechanisms for dragon-kings, (ii) detection of dragon-kings and statistical tests and (iii) empirical evidence in a large variety of natural and social systems. Overall, we are pleased to witness significant advances both in the introduction and clarification of underlying mechanisms and in the development of novel efficient tests that demonstrate clear evidence for the presence of dragon-kings in many systems. However, this positive view should be balanced by the fact that this remains a very delicate and difficult field, if only due to the scarcity of data as well as the extraordinary important implications with respect to hazard assessment, risk control and predictability.