## A Natural Law of Succession (1995)

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Citations: | 36 - 3 self |

### BibTeX

@TECHREPORT{Ristad95anatural,

author = {Eric Sven Ristad},

title = {A Natural Law of Succession},

institution = {},

year = {1995}

}

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### Abstract

We present a new solution to multinomial estimation and demonstrate that our solution outperforms standard solutions both in theory and in practice. The novelty of our approach lies in our use of combinatorial priors on strings. I. Natural Strings An alphabet represents the set of logically possible events. In this world, all strings are finite and most are very short. For this basic reason, natural strings do not include all the symbols in the alphabet. This claim is tautological for short strings, but it is also true for long strings. To model this phenomenon, we propose a uniform prior on the cardinalities of all nonempty subsets of the alphabet. Such a prior on an alphabet of size k entails the probability pN (x n jn) = min(k; n) ` k q '` n \Gamma 1 q \Gamma 1 '` n fn i g ' \Gamma1 for strings x n of length n with cardinality q. This probability is not Kolmogorov compatible. To obtain a conditional probability, we must use p(ijx n ; n + 1) instead of the more o...