Computer Program Detects Author Gender

A new computer program assesses with 80 percent accuracy whether
the authors of fiction and non-fiction books are male or female,
reports Phillip Ball in Nature. Patterns detected by the
program include the use of pronouns, such as I, you, he, she,
(female) and words that identify and quantify nouns, like
a, the, that, one, two (male). The software, developed by
Moshe Koppel of Bar Ilan University in Israel, was designed to
‘identify the most prevalent fingerprints of gender and of fiction
and non-fiction.’ These fingerprints were applied to 566
English-language works published after 1975. Two titles
misidentified by gender were Possession, by A.S. Byatt and
Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. ‘Strikingly, the
distinctions between male and female writers are much the same as
those that, even more clearly, differentiate non-fiction and
fiction,’ identifying the genres themselves with 98 percent
accuracy, Mr. Ball writes. The program will be next applied to
classical literature to determine whether these biases existed in
earlier cultures and among different languages.
Erin Ferdinand

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Program Detects Author Gender

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