From gene families and genera to incomes and internet file sizes: Why power laws are so common in nature
WJ Reed, BD Hughes
PHYSICAL REVIEW E | AMER PHYSICAL SOC | Published : 2002
We present a simple explanation for the occurrence of power-law tails in statistical distributions by showing that if stochastic processes with exponential growth in expectation are killed (or observed) randomly, the distribution of the killed or observed state exhibits power-law behavior in one or both tails. This simple mechanism can explain power-law tails in the distributions of the sizes of incomes, cities, internet files, biological taxa, and in gene family and protein family frequencies.