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Project Description

We want to analyze the complexity of words based on their source, proportion of vowels, (etc?). We will use the length of the word as a basic measure of the word's complexity and this will be our response variable for all questions.

  • What effect does word source have on Complexity? (Wikipedia, Scholarly Journal, social media (twitter), reddit, etc.)
  • What effect does the proportion of vowels in a word have on Complexity?
  • More? Words than end in "ing" or other suffix.


  • Cameron Taylor
  • David Pieper
  • Khoa Nguyen
  • Matt Seno
  • Brad Harris (dropped)


Completed Date Item to Complete
yes Oct 14 Project Proposal
yes Oct 19 Complexity Analysis Completed
yes Nov 2 Data Collection Program Completed
yes Nov 2 Met with Professor Smith to talk about Regression and Covariates
yes Nov 9 Project Update (Pilot Study and Power Analysis)
yes Nov 16 Data for Final Project Collected in a Minitab File
yes Nov 30 Presentation Completed and Practiced at least Once
yes Dec 7 Final Presentation


Download the Final Data Files

Presentation Results: Here

The Minitab file with the final data can be downloaded here: Final Data

You can download the most up to date version of the Data taking software here: Word Analyzer Files


26 November 2015

The data is finally collected and in a Minitab file waiting to be analyzed! You can download the minitab file above. That file has 3 worksheets in it (one for Topic, one for date, and one with all of the data combined.) This will make it easier to isolate the individual sub-studies that we are working on without having to deal with unstacking the columns of 36672 total words.

Since it is Thanksgiving break, and we only have a couple weeks to finish this project, I think it would be awesome to make some more progress. Personally, I will be super busy during the last couple weeks of school, and wont have a ton of time to work on the project, so I am going to analyze the data as much as I can during the break. When I get to the point where we can start working on a final presentation, we should start that as soon as possible.

Next week when we meet on Wednesday, I hope to have the data fully analyzed and we can go over it all together. I think we will have to practice our presentation on the weekend before finals week.

Happy Thanksgiving!
- Cameron

14 November 2015

Hey Guys,

Some clarification on what we are going to do for the rest of the project

Our project makes it hard to look at interaction factors accross the board because of the variety of sources that we are looking at. Date and Intended audience don't necessarily have the same prevalence in each source. As a result, we should split the project into the 3 sections clarified in the update bellow.

Our initial pilot study required that we gathered a sample of 2199 words per treatment.

  • Source (with minimum sample size, this is a multiple of 2199 depending on the amount of sub-treatments, each subtreatment will need a minimum of 2199 words)
    • Wikipedia (4398 words)
    • Scholarly Articles (4398 words)
    • NYT articles (6597 words)
    • Social Media (2199 words)
    • Novels (6597 words)
  • Date (only for novels and NYT articles)
    • After 1980*
    • between 1900* and 1980*
    • before 1900*
  • Topic (only for Wikipedia and Scholarly Journals)
    • Hard Sciences (ex: Biology, Physics, Chemisty, Mathematics, Computer Science, etc.)
    • Social Sciences (ex: Current Events, History, Sports, etc.)

I will be updating the software to be able to take topic into account, so hold off on taking that data for now. (This update has been made, feel free to take the data)

I think for now, it would be best if we had Khoa take data from Wikipedia and Scholarly Journals, Matt take data for Novels and NYT articles, and David take data from Social Media. I can then put it all together into one file and process it in minitab (it might be good to do the processing together so we all know what the results were). Let me know if you have any questions and/or if you need help gathering your data. Also, be sure to document how you gathered your data, just write out a simple step-by-step so that someone else can see how we got the data.

It would be great if we got started with data collection this weekend!

- Cameron

* These times can change, I just thought they would be interesting. Matt, please let me know whether or not the novels can be accessed for all of those dates.

8 November 2015

Hey Guys,

I'm writing this after finishing up the Project Update, and I am super pleased with how the pilot study and power analysis turned out! However, it has become clear that factors other than Source are going to be difficult to deal with, and I think we need to give that some thought. Whether or not a word starts wtih a vowel works, but it does not really have a whole lot of meaning.

A couple suggestions that have come up have been the time that the text was written, and the intended audience of the text. Both of these seem like they would be very interesting questions to answer. I think that the best way to go about it is to split our study into 3 main parts. One focusing on Source, one on Date, and one on Intended Audience.

  • Source will include analysis between all sources that we gather data from, and there will be no focus on interation.
  • Date will only look at Novels and New York Times articles (I found an archive of articles that date back to 1851). This will include interaction analysis between date written and Novels vs. NYT article.
  • Intended Audience will only look at Wikipedia and Scholarly Journals. This will include interaction analysis between intended audience and wikipedia vs scholarly journals.

There will have to be some minor changes to the software in order to take all this into account, but that will be easy to do. We will also want to start our data collection for this as soon as possible since we will need a lot of it.

Thanks everyone!
- Cameron

1 November 2015

Word Analyzer Files

Hi guys, I have gotten the software to a point where it can be used to start to collect Data. Download and Extract the files above (You may also need to download the .NET framework if you haven't already). The software only works on Windows. Make sure to provide a date for your source in the software, and uncheck the 'Use Date' box if you cannot find a date. It would be good if everyone could download that and start testing the software. If you have any questions, or find a problem with the software PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

Last Wednesday, we also decided that each of us would gather data from an individual source, and it will be up to you individually to determine how to collect your data, just make sure that you are getting a valid random sample, and document your procedure for collecting data. I think a good target to shoot for would be about 1000 words from your source.

Name Source to Collect from
Cameron Wikipedia
Khoa Scholarly Journals
Matt Books/Novels
David Reddit
Brad Social Media (pick one)

Khoa has set up a meeting with Professor Smith on Friday 6 Nov 2015 from 1:30-2:30 in her office to talk about Covariates and Regression. If you can make it to that, please do! I will also be meeting with her to talk about some details on collecting data. Once that is done, we can start the first data collection for the pilot study.

Thanks everyone!
- Cameron Taylor

14 October 2015

Hi guys, sorry about any confusion that may have happened with the 5 people, but Professor Smith was pretty awesome and is letting us work in a team of 5. She had also already let us pursue this project despite being an observational study. Because of this, I really want to make sure that everyone does their best and we do produce a project that is worth of the work of 5 people.

Since there is a heavy emphasis on coding for the project, it is great that we have 3 people in a CS discipline. This Github page will be where I am keeping the code for the project. It will allow anyone to view/edit the code as they please. I also think that the README file would be a good place to post larger updates (like this one).

Khoa has agreed to reserve a fishbowl in the library from 2-4 every wednesday for us. We can use that as time to work on the project, work on stats homework, or study for midterms. This will start on the 21st. This is not the only time that we can meet, and other times can be arranged if needed, but with 5 people it is difficult to find a time that works for everyone.

I also posted a schedule with a basic outline of tasks we should complete. Hopefuly we can keep to it and be done a week before the final presentation. By next Monday, I think it would be awesome to have our complexity algorithm figured out, so let me know if people have suggestions on what parameters make a word less or more complex.

It would also be great if people could come up with some ideas for how to get random text from Twitter, Scholarly Journals, Wikipedia, Reddit, and any other sources you can think of (the more the better). The links at the bottom of this post have our current ideas.

Some other links:

  • Word Complexity Algorithm
  • Word Sources
  • RexEgg Regular Expressions are something that will be of great use in this project. I suggest that Khoa and Brad have a look here to get a basic understanding of what they are. (I think they are awesome...)

Thanks everyone!
- Cameron Taylor

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