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Benford's law states that the leading digits of many data sets are not uniformly distributed from one through nine, but rather exhibit a profound bias. This bias is evident in everything from electricity bills and street addresses to stock prices, population numbers, mortality rates, and the lengths of rivers. Here, Steven Miller brings together many of the world’s leading experts on Benford’s law to demonstrate the many useful techniques that arise from the law, show how truly multidisciplinary it is, and encourage collaboration. Beginning with the general theory, the contributors explain the prevalence of the bias, highlighting explanations for when systems should and should not follow Benford’s law and how quickly such behavior sets in. They go on to discuss important applications in disciplines ranging from accounting and economics to psychology and the natural sciences. The contributors describe how Benford’s law has been successfully used to expose fraud in elections, medical tests, tax filings, and financial reports. Additionally, numerous problems, background materials, and technical details are available online to help instructors create courses around the book. Emphasizing common challenges and techniques across the disciplines, this accessible book shows how Benford’s law can serve as a productive meeting ground for researchers and practitioners in diverse fields.
A powerful new tool for all forensic accountants, or anyone who analyzes data that may have been altered Benford's Law gives the expected patterns of the digits in the numbers in tabulated data such as town and city populations or Madoff's fictitious portfolio returns. Those digits, in unaltered data, will not occur in equal proportions; there is a large bias towards the lower digits, so much so that nearly one-half of all numbers are expected to start with the digits 1 or 2. These patterns were originally discovered by physicist Frank Benford in the early 1930s, and have since been found to apply to all tabulated data. Mark J. Nigrini has been a pioneer in applying Benford's Law to auditing and forensic accounting, even before his groundbreaking 1999 Journal of Accountancy article introducing this useful tool to the accounting world. In Benford's Law, Nigrini shows the widespread applicability of Benford's Law and its practical uses to detect fraud, errors, and other anomalies. Explores primary, associated, and advanced tests, all described with data sets that include corporate payments data and election data Includes ten fraud detection studies, including vendor fraud, payroll fraud, due diligence when purchasing a business, and tax evasion Covers financial statement fraud, with data from Enron, AIG, and companies that were the target of hedge fund short sales Looks at how to detect Ponzi schemes, including data on Madoff, Waxenberg, and more Examines many other applications, from the Clinton tax returns and the charitable gifts of Lehman Brothers to tax evasion and number invention Benford's Law has 250 figures and uses 50 interesting authentic and fraudulent real-world data sets to explain both theory and practice, and concludes with an agenda and directions for future research. The companion website adds additional information and resources.
Contrary to common intuition that all digits should occur randomly with equal chances in real data, empirical examinations consistently show that not all digits are created equal, but rather that low digits such as {1, 2, 3} occur much more frequently than high digits such as {7, 8, 9} in almost all data types, such as those relating to geology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, and engineering, as well as in accounting, financial, econometrics, and demographics data sets. This intriguing digital phenomenon is known as Benford's Law. This book gives a comprehensive and in-depth account of all the theoretical aspects, results, causes and explanations of Benford's Law, with a strong emphasis on the connection to real-life data and the physical manifestation of the law. In addition to such a bird's eye view of the digital phenomenon, the conceptual distinctions between digits, numbers, and quantities are explored; leading to the key finding that the phenomenon is actually quantitative in nature; originating from the fact that in extreme generality, nature creates many small quantities but very few big quantities, corroborating the motto "small is beautiful", and that therefore all this is applicable just as well to data written in the ancient Roman, Mayan, Egyptian, and other digit-less civilizations. Fraudsters are typically not aware of this digital pattern and tend to invent numbers with approximately equal digital frequencies. The digital analyst can easily check reported data for compliance with this digital law, enabling the detection of tax evasion, Ponzi schemes, and other financial scams. The forensic fraud detection section in this book is written in a very concise and reader-friendly style; gathering all known methods and standards in the accounting and auditing industry; summarizing and fusing them into a singular coherent whole; and can be understood without deep knowledge in statistical theory or advanced mathematics. In addition, a digital algorithm is presented, enabling the auditor to detect fraud even when the sophisticated cheater is aware of the law and invents numbers accordingly. The algorithm employs a subtle inner digital pattern within the Benford's pattern itself. This newly discovered pattern is deemed to be nearly universal, being even more prevalent than the Benford phenomenon, as it is found in all random data sets, Benford as well as non-Benford types. Contents:Benford's LawForensic Digital AnalysisFraud DetectionData Compliance TestsConceptual and Mathematical FoundationsBenford's Law in the Physical SciencesTopics in Benford's LawThe Law of Relative Quantities Readership: Professionals, researchers and serious students of financial and data analysis, forensic accounting, fraud investigation, auditing, mathematics and probability and statistics. Key Features:The book is a concise account of practical applications of the phenomenon of fraud detection and it corrects several errors committed in the field where mistaken applications are usedThe perceptive reader interested in knowing about the use of this digital law in fraud detection, would be able to learn about it with a minimal amount of effort and time, without searching through literally hundreds of various small articles on the topicThe book provides numerous new theoretical points-of-view of the phenomenon, new methods for testing data for compliance, and fuses many different aspects of the law into a singular explanationKeywords:Benford's Law;Digits;Quantities;Relative Quantities;Numbers;Fraud;Fraud Detection;Data;Data Analysis;Forensic Analysis;Pattern;Physics;Chemistry;Geology;Astronomy
This book provides the first comprehensive treatment of Benford's law, the surprising logarithmic distribution of significant digits discovered in the late nineteenth century. Establishing the mathematical and statistical principles that underpin this intriguing phenomenon, the text combines up-to-date theoretical results with overviews of the law’s colorful history, rapidly growing body of empirical evidence, and wide range of applications. An Introduction to Benford’s Law begins with basic facts about significant digits, Benford functions, sequences, and random variables, including tools from the theory of uniform distribution. After introducing the scale-, base-, and sum-invariance characterizations of the law, the book develops the significant-digit properties of both deterministic and stochastic processes, such as iterations of functions, powers of matrices, differential equations, and products, powers, and mixtures of random variables. Two concluding chapters survey the finitely additive theory and the flourishing applications of Benford’s law. Carefully selected diagrams, tables, and close to 150 examples illuminate the main concepts throughout. The text includes many open problems, in addition to dozens of new basic theorems and all the main references. A distinguishing feature is the emphasis on the surprising ubiquity and robustness of the significant-digit law. This text can serve as both a primary reference and a basis for seminars and courses.
Contrary to common intuition that all digits should occur randomly with equal chances in real data, empirical examinations consistently show that not all digits are created equal, but rather that low digits such as {1, 2, 3} occur much more frequently than high digits such as {7, 8, 9} in almost all data types, such as those relating to geology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, and engineering, as well as in accounting, financial, econometrics, and demographics data sets. This intriguing digital phenomenon is known as Benford's Law.This book represents an attempt to give a comprehensive and in-depth account of all the research related to, results, causes and explanations of Benford's Law, with a strong emphasis on the connection to real-life data and the physical manifestation of the law. In addition to the rigorous data analysis, the conceptual distinctions between digits, numbers, and quantities are explored. This leads to the key finding that the phenomenon is actually quantitative in nature. Why? The author illustrates that in extreme generality, nature creates many small quantities but very few big quantities, corroborating the motto “small is beautiful”, and that therefore all this is applicable just as well to data written in the ancient Roman, Mayan, Egyptian, and other digit-less civilizations.Fraudsters are typically not aware of this digital pattern and tend to invent numbers with approximately equal digital frequencies. The digital analyst can easily check reported data for compliance with this digital law, enabling the detection of tax evasion, Ponzi schemes, and other financial scams. The forensic fraud detection section in this book is written in a very concise and reader-friendly style; gathering all known methods and standards in the accounting and auditing industry; summarizing and fusing them into a singular coherent whole; and can be understood without deep knowledge in statistical theory or advanced mathematics. In addition, a digital algorithm is presented, enabling the auditor to detect fraud even when the sophisticated cheater is aware of the law and invents numbers accordingly. The algorithm employs a subtle inner digital pattern within the Benford's pattern itself. This newly discovered pattern is deemed to be nearly universal, being even more prevalent than the Benford phenomenon, as it is found in all random data sets, Benford as well as non-Benford types.
Discover how to detect fraud, biases, or errors in your data using Access or Excel With over 300 images, Forensic Analytics reviews and shows how twenty substantive and rigorous tests can be used to detect fraud, errors, estimates, or biases in your data. For each test, the original data is shown with the steps needed to get to the final result. The tests range from high-level data overviews to assess the reasonableness of data, to highly focused tests that give small samples of highly suspicious transactions. These tests are relevant to your organization, whether small or large, for profit, nonprofit, or government-related. Demonstrates how to use Access, Excel, and PowerPoint in a forensic setting Explores use of statistical techniques such as Benford's Law, descriptive statistics, correlation, and time-series analysis to detect fraud and errors Discusses the detection of financial statement fraud using various statistical approaches Explains how to score locations, agents, customers, or employees for fraud risk Shows you how to become the data analytics expert in your organization Forensic Analytics shows how you can use Microsoft Access and Excel as your primary data interrogation tools to find exceptional, irregular, and anomalous records.
In a manner accessible to beginning undergraduates, An Invitation to Modern Number Theory introduces many of the central problems, conjectures, results, and techniques of the field, such as the Riemann Hypothesis, Roth's Theorem, the Circle Method, and Random Matrix Theory. Showing how experiments are used to test conjectures and prove theorems, the book allows students to do original work on such problems, often using little more than calculus (though there are numerous remarks for those with deeper backgrounds). It shows students what number theory theorems are used for and what led to them and suggests problems for further research. Steven Miller and Ramin Takloo-Bighash introduce the problems and the computational skills required to numerically investigate them, providing background material (from probability to statistics to Fourier analysis) whenever necessary. They guide students through a variety of problems, ranging from basic number theory, cryptography, and Goldbach's Problem, to the algebraic structures of numbers and continued fractions, showing connections between these subjects and encouraging students to study them further. In addition, this is the first undergraduate book to explore Random Matrix Theory, which has recently become a powerful tool for predicting answers in number theory. Providing exercises, references to the background literature, and Web links to previous student research projects, An Invitation to Modern Number Theory can be used to teach a research seminar or a lecture class.

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