Math in the Media

Also see the Blog on Math Blogs


Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Firm sizematters," by Philip Ball. Nature Science Update, 7 September 2001.

Philip Ball writes of work done by Robert Axtell of the Brookings Institutionregarding the distribution of the sizes of the 5.5 million firms in the U.S.In a working paper titled "The emergence of firms in a population of agents:local increasing returns, unstable Nash equilibria, and power law sizedistributions," Axtell claims that U.S. firm sizes follow a Zipf distributionand explains why. A perhaps surprising conclusion by Axtell, related to hismodel, is that the largest and longest-living U.S. firms are not the mostprofitable but are those that have the most productive workers. The work alsois published in the 7 September issue of Science (p. 1818) and summarized in the same issue in "Firm Numbers" (p. 1725).

--- Mike Breen

American Mathematical Society