Formula Follows the Evolution of Writing Styles (NewScientist)


Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Daniel Rockmore, along with Computer Science Department PhD students James Hughes and Nicholas Foti, have completed an extensive analysis of English literature, examining how literary styles have evolved over time.

An article by NewScientist explained the findings of the study’s analysis of literature, which included the examination of 7,733 English language works written since 1550. The research, the article notes, focused on tracking the use of “content-free” words, such as “to” and “that.”  Rockmore explained to NewScientist, “Content-free words are indicative of writing style.”

The researchers found that writers appear to be influenced by their peers, rather than by their predecessors. “That writers should be most influenced by their contemporaries rather than the great works of the past is interesting,” Rockmore says, “because it challenges the reach of ‘classic’ literature.”

Ready the full story, published 5/1/12 by NewScientist.

Office of Communications