Campbell’s law: “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” Named after Donald T. Campbell (1916–1996)
Cheops law: “Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.”
Claasen’s law, or the logarithmic law of usefulness: usefulness = log(technology).
Little’s law, in queuing theory: “The average number of customers in a stable system (over some time interval) is equal to their average arrival rate, multiplied by their average time in the system.” The law was named for John Little from results of experiments in 1961.
Littlewood’s law: individuals can expect miracles to happen to them, at the rate of about one per month. Coined by Professor J E Littlewood, (1885–1977).
Maes–Garreau law: most favorable predictions about future technology will fall around latest possible date they can come true and still remain in the lifetime of the person making the prediction.
Mendel’s laws are named for the 19th century Austrian monk Gregor Mendel who determined the patterns of inheritance through his plant breeding experiments, working especially with peas. Mendel’s first law, or the law of segregation, states that each organism has a pair of genes; that it inherits one from each parent, and that the organism will pass down only one of these genes to its own offspring. These different copies of the same gene are called alleles. Mendel’s second law, the law of independent assortment, states that different traits will be inherited independently by the offspring.
Miller’s law, in communication: “To understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of.” Named after George Armitage Miller.
Peter principle: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Coined by Dr. Laurence J. Peter (1919–1990) in his book The Peter Principle. In his follow-up book, The Peter Prescription, he offered possible solutions to the problems his principle could cause.
Poe’s law (fundamentalism): “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.” Although it originally referred to creationism, the scope later widened to any form of extremism or fundamentalism.
Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy: “In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.”
Price’s law (Price’s square root law) indicates that the square root of the number of all authors contribute half the publications in a given subject.
Putt’s law: Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand.
Putt’s corollary: Every technical hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion.
Ribot’s law: In amnesia, more recent memories are most affected.
Shirky principle: “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”
Sod’s law states: “if something can go wrong, it will”.
Sowa‘s law of standards: “Whenever a major organization develops a new system as an official standard for X, the primary result is the widespread adoption of some simpler system as a de facto standard for X.”
Stein’s law: If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. If a trend cannot go on forever, there is no need for action or a program to make it stop, much less to make it stop immediately; it will stop of its own accord.
Streisand effect: Any attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely.
Sutton’s law: “Go where the money is.” Often cited in medical schools to teach new doctors to spend resources where they are most likely to pay off. The law is named after bank robber Willie Sutton, who when asked why he robbed banks, is claimed to have answered “Because that’s where the money is.”
Teeter’s law: “The language of the family you know best always turns out to be the most archaic.” A wry observation about the biases of historical linguists, explaining how different investigators can arrive at radically divergent conceptions of the proto-language of a family. Named after the American linguist Karl V. Teeter.
Van Loon’s law: “The amount of mechanical development will always be in inverse ratio to the number of slaves that happen to be at a country’s disposal.” Named for Hendrik Willem van Loon.
Wirth’s law: Software gets slower more quickly than hardware gets faster.
Yao’s principle, in computational complexity theory: the expected cost of any randomized algorithm for solving a given problem, on the worst case input for that algorithm, can be no better than the expected cost, for a worst-case random probability distribution on the inputs, of the deterministic algorithm that performs best against that distribution. Named for Andrew Yao.