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Moments of particle size distributions under sequential breakage with applications to species abundance

  • Andrew F. Siegel (a1) and George Sugihara (a1)

The sequential broken stick model has appeared in numerous contexts, including biology, physics, engineering and geology. Kolmogorov showed that under appropriate conditions, sequential breakage processes often yield a lognormal distribution of particle sizes. Of particular interest to ecologists is the observed variance of the logarithms of the sizes, which characterizes the evenness of an assemblage of species. We derive the first two moments for the logarithms of the sizes in terms of the underlying distribution used to determine the successive breakages. In particular, for a process yielding n pieces, the expected sample variance behaves asymptotically as log(n). These results also yield a new identity for moments of path lengths in random binary trees.

Corresponding author
Postal address: Department of Statistics, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, U.S.A.
∗∗ Postal address: Department of Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, U.S.A.
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Journal of Applied Probability
  • ISSN: 0021-9002
  • EISSN: 1475-6072
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-applied-probability
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