October 20, 2003

Better Good Turing (?)

Check out this article in the Oct. 17 issue of Science, "Always Good Turing: Asymptotically Optimal Probability Estimation", by Alon Orlitsky, Narayana P. Santhanam, and Junan Zhang.

As Saul Gorn and Abraham Lincoln used to say, "people who like this sort of thing will find it just the sort of thing they like."

[Update: For those who don't like this sort of thing, or who don't know whether they do or don't, let me add that the paper deals with methods for estimating the probability of unseen events. An impressive but ill-informed remark by Chomsky on a related topic played an large role in the history of the field. There was earlier work on the subject by Laplace. Alan Turing and I.J. (Jack) Good made a classic contribution as part of WWII work on the enigma decryption, which was published by Good in 1953 using an ecological "cover story": estimating the population frequency of species that have never been seen in a given amount of trapping.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at October 20, 2003 11:44 AM