Fluctuations in email size

Regular Article


The purpose of this study is to explain fluctuations in email size. We have previously investigated the long-term correlations between email send requests and data flow in the system log of the primary staff email server at a university campus, finding that email size frequency follows a power-law distribution with two inflection points, and that the power-law property weakens the correlation of the data flow. However, the mechanism underlying this fluctuation is not completely understood. We collected new log data from both staff and students over six academic years and analyzed the frequency distribution thereof, focusing on the type of content contained in the emails. Furthermore, we obtained permission to collect “Content-Type” log data from the email headers. We therefore collected the staff log data from May 1, 2015 to July 31, 2015, creating two subdistributions. In this paper, we propose a model to explain these subdistributions, which follow log-normal-like distributions. In the log-normal-like model, email senders --consciously or unconsciously-- regulate the size of new email sentences according to a normal distribution. The fitting of the model is acceptable for these subdistributions, and the model demonstrates power-law properties for large email sizes. An analysis of the length of new email sentences would be required for further discussion of our model; however, to protect user privacy at the participating organization, we left this analysis for future work. This study provides new knowledge on the properties of email sizes, and our model is expected to contribute to the decision on whether to establish upper size limits in the design of email services.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Science and TechnologyKumamoto UniversityKumamotoJapan
  2. 2.Computer and Network CenterSaga UniversitySagaJapan
  3. 3.Center for Multimedia and Information TechnologiesKumamoto UniversityKumamotoJapan

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