The debate about the differences between geeks and nerds has been raging for years but a scientist believes he has come up with a mathematical equation that may finally put the argument to rest.
Software engineer Burr Settles from Pittsburgh studied the language used in 2.6 million tweets, and also sampled tweets that appeared when he searched for the terms ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’.
By comparing tweets in each query, Settles devised a mathematical equation that established the probability of a particular word appearing in a geeky tweet, or a nerdy one.
Put more simply, Settles worked out which words were used and associated most by geeks or nerds, and what the differences in subjects and topics were.
These words were then plotted on a graph; the further along the horizontal, or x-axis, a word appeared, the more nerdy it was.
The higher a word appeared on the vertical, y-axis, the more it was associated with being a geek, and geek-related
For example, the most nerdy subjects revolved around the words ‘cellist’, ‘neuroscience’, ‘goths’ and ‘gamer.’
On the geekier end of the scale, words included ‘culture’, ‘shiny’ ‘trendy’ and ‘webcomic’.
Commenting on his findings, Settles said: ‘In broad strokes, it seems to me that geeky words are more about stuff, while nerdy words are more about ideas.
‘Geeks are fans, and fans collect stuff; nerds are practitioners, and practitioners play with ideas. Of course, geeks can collect ideas and nerds play with stuff, too.