Occam's razor

(redirected from Parsimonious explanation)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
Related to Parsimonious explanation: law of parsimony, Parsimony Principle

Oc·cam's ra·zor

(ŏk'imz rā'zŏrh),
The principle of scientific parsimony. William of Occam (ca. 1282-1340) stated it thus: "The assumptions introduced to explain a thing must not be multiplied beyond necessity."
The simplest expression of scientific truth; where 2 theories exist to explain a similar phenomenon, the one making the fewest assumptions should prevail—i.e., it should be no more complicated than necessary. In keeping with Occam’s razor, generalisations should be based on observed facts and not on other generalisations

Occam's razor

A principle in science and philosophy, much applied in medicine, that one should try to account for an observed phenomenon in the simplest possible way and should not look for multiply explanations of its different aspects. For instance, a range of symptoms and signs occurring together should always, if possible, be attributed to a single disease rather than to several different diseases occurring simultaneously. (William of Occam, ca. 1290–1349, English philosopher).

Occam's razor

see OCKHAM'S RAZOR.
References in periodicals archive ?
This proposal is based on the recognition that the failure to make progress with the most parsimonious explanation is justification for exploring hypotheses that are more difficult to investigate.
The most parsimonious explanation for the ability of these species to cross-fertilize each other is that they never lost gametic compatibility because "decoupling of the emergence of reproductive isolation from genetic divergence may be common" (Lessios and Cunningham 1990, p.
They thus suggested that "incidental erosion [of burials], accidental drowning or intentional suicide and subsequent fluvial sorting may be a more parsimonious explanation" (ibid.
"Our own data don't show the same association, so the most parsimonious explanation is that it's not A2M but something nearby," agrees Peter H.
He notes many of the differences among the countries but does not come down with a parsimonious explanation for Uruguayan exceptionalism.
Notably, the only explanation that is consistent with the axiom that the evolution of parasitism is unidirectional is the least parsimonious of the three, and the most parsimonious explanation requires the most reversals to a free-living mode.
But Chong seems imprisoned by the desire--common in American political science in recent decades--to find parsimonious explanations for complex political phenomena.
Fans of the series will welcome this entry, though newcomers will feel completely lost in the sea of names, parsimonious explanations of the supernatural elements, and belabored translation.
Laura, a shy pupil whose voice never rose beyond a whisper, often took over the class in a quiet and confident way with elegant insights and parsimonious explanations. Ivan, the boy quoted above who introduced new versions of the game, was a child with Asperger's Syndrome who had had virtually no academic success or social interaction in five years of schooling.
Akaike's (1973) information criterion (AIC) was used to rank the growth models in terms of their ability to provide statistically parsimonious explanations of the data.
Shades of the lost colony of Roanoke thread through this well-constructed and suspenseful dystopia, where secrets pile on secrets like dune sand--so many secrets that some readers may grow frustrated by the author's parsimonious explanations. The explanations are so incomplete that much remains unknown by the cliff-hanger ending, so a sequel deafly lies in the future.
First, the good news: by taking values as givens, by proceeding as if human behavior were narrowly self-interested maximizing behavior subject to more or less readily quantifiable institutional and other constraints, social scientists have been able to offer parsimonious explanations of policy-relevant phenomena and to build elegant mathematical behavioral models of the same.