Frank Benford

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Frank Albert Benford Jr.
Born May 29, 1883
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Died December 4, 1948 (aged 65)
Schenectady, New York
Alma mater University of Michigan
Known for Benford's Law
Scientific career
Fields Electrical Engineering
Institutions General Electric

Frank Albert Benford Jr., (1883 Johnstown, Pennsylvania – December 4, 1948) was an American electrical engineer and physicist best known for rediscovering and generalizing Benford's Law, a statistical statement about the occurrence of digits in lists of data.[1] The use of Benford's Law has been popularized by Mark Nigrini, an accounting professor at West Virginia University, to detect anomalies in tabulated data.[2]

Benford is also known for having devised, in 1937, an instrument for measuring the refractive index of glass. An expert in optical measurements, he published 109 papers in the fields of optics and mathematics and was granted 20 patents on optical devices.

His date of birth is given variously as May 29 or July 10, 1883. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1910, Benford worked for General Electric, first in the Illuminating Engineering Laboratory for 18 years, then the Research Laboratory for 20 years until retiring in July 1948. He died suddenly at his home on December 4, 1948.


  1. ^ Frank Benford (March 1938). "The law of anomalous numbers". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 78 (4): 551–572. JSTOR 984802.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ Mark J. Nigrini (2012). Benford's Law: Applications for Forensic Accounting, Auditing, and Fraud Detection. John Wiley & Sons. p. 330. ISBN 978-1-118-15285-0.