Publication Date



Technical Report: UTEP-CS-20-05


Many professions practice certifications as a way to establish that a person practicing this profession has reached a certain skills level. At first glance, it may sound like several years of practice should help a person pass the corresponding certification test, but in reality, even after several years of practice, most people are not able to pass the test, while after a few weeks of intensive training, most people pass it successfully. This sounds counterintuitive, since the overall number of problems that a person solves during several years of practice is much larger than the number of problems solved during a few weeks of intensive training. In this paper, we show that Zipf's law explains this seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon.

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