Debian Linux the distribution studied by the ETH Zurich researchers comprised only 474 packets in 1996, whereas there were already more than 18,000 in 2007.
Read more about the study here
Thomas Maillart describes himself as a risk manager. He says that he had already calculated risks as a Civil Engineering student at EPFL, where these risks were connected with the safety of building structures. He then worked in a company insuring Internet risks. He has now written the paper on Zipfs law in the context of his thesis on Internet risks at the Chair on Entrepreneurial Risks at ETH Zurich.
Being able to estimate the growth of Linux packets is exciting from an entrepreneurial point of view. However, the significance of the paper extends far beyond this specialist area, because the knowledge applies to all systems obeying Zipfs law. To the size of companies, for example: by analogy with the number of links pointing to a Linux packet, a companys size provides no certainty that the company will survive, as the financial crisis has confirmed.