Synthese 79 (3):515 - 542 (1989)

The logic of scientific discovery is now a concern of computer scientists, as well as philosophers. In the computational approach to inductive inference, theories are treated as algorithms (computer programs), and the goal is to find the simplest algorithm that can generate the given data. Both computer scientists and philosophers want a measure of simplicity, such that simple theories are more likely to be true than complex theories. I attempt to provide such a measure here. I define a measure of simplicity for directed graphs, inspired by Herbert Simon''s work. Many structures, including algorithms, can be naturally modelled by directed graphs. Furthermore, I adapt an argument of Simon''s to show that simple directed graphs are more stable and more resistant to damage than complex directed graphs. Thus we have a reason for pursuing simplicity, other than purely economical reasons.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00869285
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 58,437
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Architecture of Complexity.Herbert A. Simon - 1962 - Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106.
Problems and Projects.Nelson Goodman (ed.) - 1972 - Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Curve Fitting Problem: A Solution.Peter Turney - 1990 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41 (4):509-530.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
54 ( #187,529 of 2,420,984 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #249,219 of 2,420,984 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes