Price’s Law says, “half of the publications come from the square root of all contributors.” However, it is often used to support the idea that, “a few people generate half the results.”[1][2][3][4]

This general truism was related to his work in “Bibliometrics,” where he looked at the exponential growth of science, the half-life of scientific literature, and the growth and distribution of citation networks between scientific papers.

The interesting, and now more provable than they were, ideas all generally have the same implication. In his work specifically, that was: as time goes by the amount of works produced grows exponentially faster than works cited, thus if 100 papers are written by 25 authors, five authors will have contributed 50 papers.

This is sometimes related to the Matthew effect which says “the rich get richer,” but can also be more broadly seen as a sort of libertarian justification of life where we say (as Jordan B Peterson does), “in practice, a tiny number of people produce all of everything” or in fancier terms “The square root of the number of people in a productive domain produce half of its total output.”

On this page, I am not going to break down whether or not Price’s law or Peterson’s version of Price’s law are true, half-true, or just cool ideas (like any sort of rule, such as Lotka’s Law, there are critics; see the citations). Instead, I just wanted to present the idea, mostly because I noticed people caring about this online, and Derek J. de Solla Price is my Grandfather (he indirectly produced me and I’m indirectly citing him). Anyway, check out Peterson on Price below Check out the article from Darius Foroux below for more on the idea.

Jordan B Peterson on Price’s Law.

For more on Price, see this nifty website I put up which features “the world’s first canned University course.” This was a recorded University course created in 1976. The idea was to put Ivy League courses on tape so people of all classes could have access to Ivy League education. The guy had a lot of good ideas, like using mass communication to democratize education (*cough* this website and the Peterson video), and rather early on… which helps one get cited in other people’s work.


  1. Price’s Law: Why Only A Few People Generate Half Of The Results.
  2. Derek J. de Solla Price.
  3. Price’s Law and how it applies to everything.
  4. Price’s square root law: Empirical validity and relation to Lotka’s law.

"Price’s Law" is tagged with: Derek de Sola Price

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