Terminal digit preference: beware of Benford’s law

  title={Terminal digit preference: beware of Benford’s law},
  author={Trevor William Beer},
  journal={Journal of Clinical Pathology},
  pages={192 - 192}
  • T. Beer
  • Published 29 January 2009
  • Computer Science
  • Journal of Clinical Pathology
Recording numerical data in pathology reports is routine and in some cases may provide valuable prognostic data (eg, tumour size for cancer staging). Hayes has recently observed that there is a tendency for reporters to favour 0 and 5 as the last digits in measurements “terminal digit preference”.1 This is perhaps not surprising as gross measurements are often approximations taken in a relatively imprecise fashion (eg, holding a ruler to an irregularly shaped and flexible tissue sample), and… 
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Terminal digit preference occurs in pathology reporting irrespective of patient management implication
  • S. Hayes
  • Medicine
    Journal of Clinical Pathology
  • 2008
It remains uncertain whether or not digit preference occurs in the context of colorectal carcinoma reporting, as pathologists may round off measurement values with a prior knowledge that this would have no effect on patient management.
I've Got Your Number
Benford's law is used to determine the normal level of number duplication in data sets, which in turn makes it possible to identify abnormal digit and number occurrence.
The significant-digit phenomenon. The American Mathematical Monthly 1995;102:322–7
  • 1995
The significantdigit phenomenon
  • The American Mathematical Monthly
  • 1995
The law of anomalous numbers
  • Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
  • 1938