Skip to main content

Mr. Benford

  • 1549 Accesses


Would you like to win a bet? Let’s see if you can manage to guess the first digit of a number or at least whether that number is less than 4. Tell somebody to think of everyday-life numbers, such as the street number of a house or the amount of money they have in their checking account, or a percentage rate they commonly use such as a mortgage interest rate, or, perhaps, a physical or mathematical constant such as pi. If your bet is that this number begins with 1, 2, or 3, you will be right more than half the time, in fact, you will be right 60.2% of the time. Your betting partner will no doubt be surprised by your success rate, for at first sight there is no reason at all for the laws of chance to produce such a result.


  • Significant Digit
  • Production Index
  • Check Account
  • House Number
  • Mortgage Interest Rate

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   19.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   27.50
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD   37.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  1. 1.

    W. Feller, An Introduction to Probability Theory and its Applications, Vol. 2, 3rd edition, Wiley, New York, NY, 1968

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nuno Crato .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2010 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Crato, N. (2010). Mr. Benford. In: Figuring It Out. Copernicus, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Download citation