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Occam's razor

Occam's razor (also Ockham's razor or Ocham's razor: Latin: novacula Occami; or law of parsimony: Latin: lex parsimoniae) is the problem-solving principle that states "Entities should not be multiplied without necessity." The idea is attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), a scholastic philosopher and theologian. It is sometimes misquoted in pop culture and other media by some form of the statement "The simplest solution is most likely the right one." Occam's razor instead says that when presented with competing hypotheses that make the same predictions, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions, and it is not meant to be a way of choosing between hypotheses that make different predictions.

Similarly, in science, Occam's razor is used as an abductive heuristic in the development of theoretical models rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. 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 may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable.



Source: Occam's razor
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