Occam's Razor Principle

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An Occam's Razor Principle is a decision theory which states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.



  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor
    • Occam's razor (also written as Ockham's razor and in Latin lex parsimoniae) is a principle of parsimony, economy, or succinctness used in problem-solving devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347). It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but — in the absence of certainty — the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

      The application of the principle often shifts the burden of proof in a discussion.Template:Refn The razor states that one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power. The simplest available theory need not be most accurate. Philosophers also point out that the exact meaning of simplest may be nuanced.Template:Refn

      Solomonoff's theory of inductive inference is a mathematically formalized Occam's Razor:[1][2][3][4][5][6] shorter computable theories have more weight when calculating the probability of the next observation, using all computable theories which perfectly describe previous observations.

      In science, Occam's Razor is used as a heuristic (discovery tool) to guide scientists in the development of theoretical models rather than as an arbiter between published models.[7][8] In the scientific method, Occam's Razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there is always an infinite number of possible and more complex alternatives, because one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypothesis to prevent them from being falsified; therefore, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are better testable and falsifiable.[9][10][11]

  1. Induction: From Kolmogorov and Solomonoff to De Finetti and Back to Kolmogorov JJ McCall - Metroeconomica, 2004 - Wiley Online Library.
  2. Foundations of Occam's Razor and parsimony in learning from ricoh.comD Stork - NIPS 2001 Workshop, 2001.
  3. A.N. Soklakov (2002). "Occam's Razor as a formal basis for a physical theory". Foundations of Physics Letters (Springer). http://arxiv.org/pdf/math-ph/0009007. 
  4. J. HERNANDEZ-ORALLO (2000). "Beyond the Turing Test". Journal of Logic, Language, and .... http://users.dsic.upv.es/proy/anynt/Beyond.pdf. 
  5. M. Hutter (2003). On the existence and convergence of computable universal priors. Springer. http://arxiv.org/abs/cs/0305052. 
  6. Samuel Rathmanner; Marcus Hutter (2011). "A philosophical treatise of universal induction". Entropy 13 (6): 1076–1136. doi:10.3390/e13061076. http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.5721. 
  7. Hugh G. Gauch, Scientific Method in Practice, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-01708-4, ISBN 978-0-521-01708-4.
  8. Roald Hoffmann, Vladimir I. Minkin, Barry K. Carpenter, Ockham's Razor and Chemistry, HYLE — International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 3, pp. 3–28, (1997).
  9. Alan Baker (2004 Revised 2010). "Simplicity". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. California: Stanford University. ISSN 1095-5054. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/. 
  10. Courtney A, Courtney M (2008). "Comments Regarding "On the Nature Of Science"". Physics in Canada 64 (3): 7–8. http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0812/0812.4932.pdf. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  11. Elliott Sober, Let's Razor Occam's Razor, pp. 73–93, from Dudley Knowles (ed.) Explanation and Its Limits, Cambridge University Press (1994).