07/18/2013 08:42 am ET

How Computer Analysis Uncovered J. K. Rowlings' Secret Novel


The Cuckoo's Calling, a detective novel by first-time author Robert Gailbraith, just got solved in a big way. This weekend, the U.K.'s The Times reported The Cuckoo's Calling was actually written by J. K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter. Rowling even admitted to writing the novel after The Times asked her directly.

Among the evidence The Times presented to Rowling were analyses from two university professors who had written computer programs to uncover who authored disputed texts. After all, every writer has her habits. One obvious one is the use of regional words—a car "boot" versus a "trunk," for example—but others are much more subtle and unconscious. It's totally creepy, but cool, that a computer program is able to pick them out.

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