Re: Buttered toast

__Robert Markley_ (Markley__(")
Fri, 3 Nov 95 11:00:09 CDT

There is a serious side to Murphy's Law. It is related to our ability to
predict the behavior of systems that differ in size. Precise predictions can
be achieved for small systems by use of mathematics. Predictions for systems
with large numbers of variables/observations can be made statistically (cf.
Law of large numbers). Analysis of medium sized systems is problematic:
Computational requirements for mathematical analysis exceed practical limits
and yet there are not enough data for satisfactory statistical treatment.
Hence you can expect that "large fluctuations, irregularities, and discrepancy
with any theory will occur more or less regularly." Thus Murphy's Law.

This thesis is made in a neat book by Gerald M. Weinberg (1975). "An
Introduction to General Systems Thinking." New York: John Wiley. See chapter
1. The predictive power of physics comes about through simplification of the
universe by dealing with a small number of variables. Chemistry suceeds
through use of very large N (millions of molecules/atoms etc.). Psychology is
stuck in the middle????

Weinberg's book is fun. Not at all technical. Well worth a weekend's read.

Robert P. Markley
Fort Hays State U.
Hays, KS, USA