Essential Pittsburgh
4:14 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Duquesne Professor Develops Technology That Uncovers Rowling's Pseudonym

Joula has developed a technology that uses an author's vocabulary and style to determine possible pseudonyms.
Joula has developed a technology that uses an author's vocabulary and style to determine possible pseudonyms.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Duquesne University Professor Patrick Joula received an email from the London Sunday Times last week.  The Times was asking him to utilize an authorial identification technology he had been developing for years in order to determine if the new crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling was written by the famous J.K. Rowling. The paper had received an anonymous tweet indicating the author, Robert Galbraith, was actually Rowling. 

After a half hour, Joula’s computer read the entire novel and was able to highlight particulars of Galbraith’ writing style in comparison to Rowling’s in her novel, The Casual Vacancy.

“Language is very individual, everyone has their own unique spin,” comments Joula, noting that his computer looked at the hundred most common words in Rowling’s writings as well as the lengths of words in common with her other work and her use of two word phrases.

Joula had been working on this technology for many years and when the Sunday Times finally confirmed that they had enough information to publish his findings, he said he was “delighted by the fact that the technology works!” Joula is current in the process of reading The Cuckoo’s Calling for leisure.