The man whose salary was O(log log X)

From “Freaky Fortnight,” Slate’s series on a man and wife trading jobs for a week:

My job doesn’t pay as well as those of my doctor, lawyer, or banking friends.  At 36, I’ve seen my income rise slowly like an overloaded C-2 cargo plane while their salaries take these nice, logarithmic leaps.

I thought this was an isolated occurrence, but the practice seems to be spreading factorially.

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4 thoughts on “The man whose salary was O(log log X)

  1. Noah Snyder says:

    I actually ran across a similar usage in a Stephen J. Gould book. You’d think as a scientist he’d know better. My theory was that it might come from the fact that when you draw things on a logarithmic scale then lines are actually representing huge growth? When you hear that something is “on a logarithmic scale” (e.g. Richter) that means that a 9 is way way bigger than an 8. So increasing “by a logarithm” or “by a logarithmic leap” makes sense as “increasing the way things do when they’re on a logarithmic scale.”

  2. Noah Snyder says:

    Ah, here’s the passage (if commenters are allowed to use links here).

  3. Qiaochu Yuan says:

    There are 204 Google results for “logarithmic leap.” At least one seems to confirm Noah’s guess.

    I can’t tell whether people thinking that “logarithmic” means “exponential” is deeply or only shallowly ironic.

  4. Apologies in advance: The graph of my salary over time is smooth, while the graphs of theirs are logarithmically smooth.

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