Thursday, March 9, 2017

Occam's razor
William of Ockham 
Occam's razor (or Ockham's razor) is a principle from philosophy. Suppose there exist two explanations for an occurrence. In this case, the simpler one is usually better. Another way of saying it is that the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely an explanation is.
 Occam's razor applies especially in the philosophy of science, but also more generally.
William of Ockham, a Franciscan friar who studied logic in the 14th century, first made this principle well known.[1] In Latin it is sometimes called lex parsimoniae, or "the law of briefness".

William of Ockham supposedly (see below) wrote it in Latin as:
  • Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
This translates roughly as:
  • More things should not be used than are necessary.
This means that if there are several possible ways that something might have happened, the way that uses the fewest guesses is probably the right one.

However, Occam's razor only applies when the simple explanation and complex explanation both work equally well.

If a more complex explanation does a better job than a simpler one, then you should use the complex one.

Occam's razor is a principle, not an actual razor: the word 'razor' is a metaphor.
Occam's razor gets rid of unnecessary explanations just like a razor shaves off extra hair.


Further ideas

A problem with Occam's razor is that the sentence is not really about things (entia = entities), but about explanations or hypotheses

So other thinkers have come up with other versions:

"We consider it a good principle to explain the phenomena by the simplest hypothesis possible". Ptolemy. Not only is Ptolemy earlier than Occam, but Occam's supposed wording cannot be found in any of his existing works.
"We are to admit no more causes of natural things other than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes". Isaac Newton.
"Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities". Bertrand Russell.
In science, Occam's razor is used as a heuristic (general guiding rule or an observation) to guide scientists.
 Read More:

Occam's razor - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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