Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Occam's Razor

Since I am thinking about "laws":

entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem

translated as:

entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

This is Occam's Razor - here is the basic entry in Wikipedia as well:

Occam's razor (also spelled Ockham's razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a heuristic maxim that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity in scientific theories. Occam's razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating, or "shaving off", those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae (law of succinctness).
Furthermore, when multiple competing theories have equal predictive powers, the principle recommends selecting those that introduce the fewest assumptions and postulate the fewest hypothetical entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.


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