Jordi Andreu, Bernat Corominas-Murtra, Ricard Solé

Paper #: 10-12-035

Zipf's law seems to be ubiquitous in human languages and appears to be a universal property of complex communicating systems. Following the early proposal made by Zipf concerning the presence of a tension between the efforts of speaker and hearer in a communication system, we introduce evolution by means of a variational approach to the problem based on Kullback's Minimum Discrimination of Information Principle. Therefore, using a formalism fully embedded in the framework of information theory, we demonstrate that Zipf's law is the only expected outcome of an evolving, communicative system under a rigorous definition of the communicative tension described by Zipf.