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A Mathematical Extra: Probability Analysis

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Chapter Summary

Questions which present themselves in the course of an investigation such as the one described in this chapter, are: what is the probability that certain numerical patterns occur in a passage? Is there a risk that we declare fortuitous occurrences of a pattern to be intentional occurrences? Dr. A. Ollongren, of the Rijksuniuersiteit at Leiden, has set up a formulation of the probability that sentences of a given length occur in a given text, and of the probability that sentences which have a given length in numbers of words contain a certain number of syllables. Every sentence has a certain length, a positive integer, measured according to the number of syllables or of words. The probability that a sentence has a length of 20 syllables is 0.026, and so the probability that two successive sentences have both a length of 20 syllables is much less than 1% and is insignificant.

Keywords: probability analysis; syllables

10.1163/9789004266667_009
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