We Must Choose the Simplest Physical Theory Levin Li Vit Anyi Theorem and Its Potential Physical Applications

Abstract

If several physical theories are consistent with the same experimental data which theory should we choose Physicists often choose the simplest theory this principle explicitly formulated by Occam is one of the basic principles of physical reasoning However until recently this principle was mainly a heuristic because it uses the informal notion of simplicity With the explicit notion of simplicity coming from the Algorithmic Information theory it is possible not only to formalize this principle in a way that is consistent with its traditional usage in physics but also to prove this principle or to be more precise deduce it from the fundamentals of mathematical statistics as the choice corresponding to the least informative prior measure Potential physical applications of this formalization due to Li and Vit anyi are presented In particular we show that on the qualitative level most fundamental ideas of physics can be re formulated as natural steps towards choosing a theory that is the simplest in the above precise sense although on the intuitive level it may seem that e g classical physics is easier than quantum physics in particular we show that such ideas as Big Bang cosmology atomism uncertainty principle Special Relativity quark con nement quantization symmetry supersymmetry etc can all be justi ed by this Bayesian justi ed preference for formalized simplicity Emails fdfox mschmidt mkosh vladikg cs utep edu E mail jkuhn sunspot noao edu D FOX M SCHMIDT M KOSHELEV AND J KUHN

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{SCHMIDT1998WeMC, title={We Must Choose the Simplest Physical Theory Levin Li Vit Anyi Theorem and Its Potential Physical Applications}, author={D FOX M SCHMIDT and M KOSHELEV}, year={1998} }