The Authorship Algorithm

by Brendan James

Patrick Juola developed a program that performs a mathematical analysis of literature; the software helped identify J.K. Rowling as the true author of The Cuckoo’s Calling. He considers the possible abuse of this kind of program:

This technology is clearly a double-edged sword. If Rowling can be identified by computational analysis, what about whistleblowers? Is anyone safe from the modern equivalent of Sherlock’s all-seeing eye? For the moment, yes. The person who truly violated Rowling’s privacy was not my computer or even the Sunday Times reporter, but the tipster who suggested the investigation in the first place. It’s simply not feasible to look at every potential author to see who might have written a book; without old-fashioned detective work (and informants), the haystack is still large enough that needles can successfully hide.