Everybody even remotely related to cryptocurrency has heard of Satoshi Nakamoto, the figure shrouded by mists of legend. Now, those mists may have been blown away by a stylometry study. Zy Crypto, a UK based cryptocurrency website, conducted this study for the second time, and have now zeroed in on Gavin Andresen, who was the lead developer of a part of the Bitcoin digital currency project as Satoshi Nakamoto.
Stylometry is a study of the literary style of an author in order to determine the identity and even has applications in linguistic forensics. Stylometry is built on statistics, studying how often a particular word occurs, or phrases used to characterize events or people, and a bunch of other lexical statistic tools.
Gavin Andresen, supposedly Satoshi, said on Twitter:
“My opinion of the accuracy of stylometry dropped significantly after reading this.”
The identity of Satoshi is big news. The inventor sits on roughly 980,000 BTC, or around 5% of the coins in circulation, worth $7.5 billion. For whatever reason, if Satoshi decides to sell BTC, the community will interpret it as the inventor’s loss of faith in his own project, sparking widespread panic.
Attempts to divine the identity of Satoshi using stylometry has been attempted before, but did not lead to any conclusive results because stylometric algorithms produce vastly different results when minor input data is tweaked. Hence, many critics are understandably skeptical about the results the software spits out.
In 2012, Joseph Rudman, a linguist at Carnegie Mellon, published a paper titled “The state of non-traditional authorship attribution studies 2012: Some problems and solutions” that discusses the many shortcomings of stylometry.
Zy Crypto themselves, published in the announcement,
“Overwhelmingly our model clustered Gavin Andresen with Satoshi but when we used co-variances our model would load the Satoshi whitepaper onto a paper by Wei Dai.”
People not familiar with this science have a common question, what if one author tries to copy the style of another, won’t this muddle up stylometry’s statistics? This is far easier said than done. Stylometry recently revealed the writer behind Robert Galbraith to be JK Rowling. One of the most common uses of stylometry is checking for plagiarism, using not just words used but also style and phrase and word density.
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