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Jul 5, 2017

How We Chose the Six Authors Featured in the New Word Bubbles Insight

Agatha Christie, Stephen Covey, Stephen Hawking, Martin Luther King, Jr., J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare: all iconic writers and all represented in our new Word Bubbles Insight. Of the many writers in the world, though, how did our team narrow down the list and choose these six authors for the Insight?

The Word Bubbles Insight analyzes the vocabulary you use in our verbal fluency game to identify which of these six authors your vocabulary most closely matches. In the Insight, you’ll be paired with one of the six writers whose word use is most similar to your own in your last Word Bubbles game, as well as a ranking of how you stack up with the writers for all games played in the last six months.

To choose these six writers, our Data Science team started with a few constraints: since Word Bubbles is only available in English, they needed writers working predominantly in English, as well. Then, in order for the writer’s vocabulary to surface statistically-significant patterns — or words closely associated with their writing — he or she needed to have a pretty hefty body of work to analyze. Additionally, the team wanted each writer’s vocabulary to feel emblematic of their chosen themes, whether they wrote fantasy stories or scientific papers. From there, they began with a list of twelve authors: neurologist Oliver Sacks, linguist Noam Chomsky, entrepreneur Seth Godin, horror writer Stephen King, 19th century novelist Jane Austen, and physicist Richard Feynman, plus the six authors currently featured in Word Bubbles.

The twelve writers’ lexica were then analyzed and compared with a proprietary algorithm. While we would have loved to include them all, the team noticed a few pairs of authors seemed too similar to allow for both to be included and the Insight to remain meaningful. For instance, Agatha Christie and Jane Austen had quite a bit of overlap, as did Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. When choosing between authors, the team debated a number of factors, and in the end, a lot of the decision came down to personal preferences.

Now, our six authors represent a wide swath of vocabulary, from Shakespeare’s classic language to Covey’s more modern vernacular. However, for a handful of users, our algorithm can’t match them with any of the writers! If you find yourself checking the Insight only to find no match for your last game, don’t despair: this just means the words you submitted this time aren’t common to any of the writers, but the Insight also gives you suggestions for some words from these authors you might use in your next game to expand your vocabulary anyway.

The Word Bubbles Insight is the seventh Insight we’ve released since launching the feature in November 2016, and it’s the first to look at a game in our new Language games category.

With which writer do you share the most vocabulary? Find out in the new Word Bubbles Insight, now available on lumosity.com and our iOS and Android apps. And let us know on Facebook or Twitter: is there a favorite author you wish we’d included?

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