Violators Will Be Ridiculed: Laws, Theorems, and Corollaries which Govern Our Lives in the Age of the Internet

Violators Will Be Ridiculed
Laws, Theorems, and Corollaries which Govern Our Lives in the Age of the Internet
compiled by Mike Foster, May 29, 2009

Here is a compilation of the various universal truths about technology, data and the Internet. These have been discovered and experienced by some of today’s leading thinkers, authors and observers.

Amdahl’s Law: The speed-up achievable on a parallel computer can be significantly limited by the existence of a small fraction of inherently sequential code which cannot be parallelized. (Gene Amdahl)

Augustine’s Second Law of Socioscience: For every scientific (or engineering) action, there is an equal and opposite social reaction. (Norman Augustine)

Benford’s Law: Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available. (Gregory Benford, 1980)

Brooks’ Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. (Frederick P Brooks Jr)

Campbell’s Theorem: Those who are most eager to share their opinions are more likely to be those whose opinions are of least value.

Carr’s Law: An Internet meme only remains viable so long as
[People who are encountering it for the first time] > [People who have encountered it before]

Church-Turing Thesis: Every function which would naturally be regarded as computable can be computed by the universal Turing machine.

Clarke’s First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. (Arthur C Clarke)

Clarke’s Second Law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. (Arthur C Clarke)

Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Arthur C Clarke)

Conway’s Law: If you have four groups working on a compiler, you’ll get a 4-pass compiler. (Melvin Conway)

Cooper’s Law: The volume  of conversations (both voice and data) has doubled every 2.5 years since radio waves were first used for transmission (approx 1900). This increase is due to several technology improvements including frequency division, modulation techniques, spatial division, and the increase in usable spectrum and now smart antennas.

Corollaries: (1) Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it. (2) If a group of N persons implements a COBOL compiler, there will be N-1 passes. Someone in the group has to be the manager. (Tom Cheatham)

Cope’s Law: There is a general tendency toward size increase in evolution. (Edward Drinker Cope)

Crayola’s Law: The number of colors doubles every 28 years.

Dilbert Principle: The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management. (Scott Adams)

Deutsch’s Seven Fallacies of Distributed Computing: Reliable delivery; Zero latency; Infinite bandwidth; Secure transmissions; Stable topology; Single adminstrator; Zero cost. (Peter Deutsch)

Ellison’s Law: The user base for strong cryptography declines by half with every additional keystroke or mouse click required to make it work. (Carl Ellison)

Ellison’s Law: The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. (Harlan Ellison)

Ellison’s Law: Once the business data have been centralized and integrated, the value of the database is greater than the sum of the preexisting parts. (Larry Ellison)

Finagle’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will. (?Larry Niven)

Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem: The more highly adapted an organism becomes, the less adaptable it is to any new change. (R A Fisher)

Fitts’s Law: The movement time required for tapping operations is a linear function of the log of the ratio of the distance to the target divided by width of the target. (Paul Fitts)

Flon’s aAxiom: There does not now, nor will there ever, exist a programming language in which it is the least bit hard to write bad programs. (Lawrence Flon)

Four-to-One Rule: 80% of everything is crap.

Gilder’s Law: Bandwidth grows at least three times faster than computer power. (George Gilder)

Gilmore’s Law: The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. (? John Gilmore, EFF)

Godwin’s Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. (Mike Godwin, 1990)

Corollaries: (1) Once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically “lost” whatever debate was in progress. (2) It is considered poor form to raise such a comparison arbitrarily with the motive of ending the thread and any such ulterior-motive invocation of Godwin’s law will be unsuccessful (this is sometimes referred to as “Quirk’s Exception”)

Grosch’s Law: The cost of computing systems increases as the square root of the computational power of the systems. (Herbert Grosch)

Grove’s Law: Telecommunications bandwidth doubles every century. (Andy Grove)

Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. (Robert J Hanlon, 1980)

Corollaries: (1) You can’t argue with stupid. (sometimes referred to as “Callahan’s Principle”).

Hartree’s Law: Whatever the state of a project, the time a project-leader will estimate for completion is constant. (Douglas Hartree)

Hebb’s Law: Neurons that fire together, wire together. (Donald O. Hebb)

Heisenbug Uncertainty Principle: Most production software bugs are soft: they go away when you look at them. (Jim Gray)

Herblock’s Law: If it’s good, they’ll stop making it. (Herbert “Herblock” Block)

Hick’s Law: The time to choose between a number of alternative targets is a function of the number of targets and is related logarithmically. (W E Hick)

Hoare’s Law: Inside every large problem is a small problem struggling to get out. (Charles Hoare)

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you think, even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account. (Douglas Hofstadter)

Hotelling’s Law: Sometimes it’s logical for competing companies to manufacture almost identical products. (Harold Hotelling)

Jakob’s Law of the Internet User Experience: Users spend most of their time on other websites. (Jakob Nielsen)

Joy’s Law: Computing power of the fastest microprocessors, measured in MIPS, increases exponentially in time. (Bill Joy)

Kerckhoff’s Principle: Security resides solely in the key. (Auguste Kerckhoff)

Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns: As order exponentially increases, time exponentially speeds up (that is, the time interval between salient events grows shorter as time passes). (Ray Kurzweil)

Lanhard’s Theorem: From any page in Wikipedia, it will never take more than 5 page-link clicks to access the Wikipedia article on Hitler. Examples of Lanhard’s Theorem: Donut -> World War II -> Hitler, Antidisestablishmentarianism -> Britain -> World War II -> Hitler

Law of the Conservation of Catastrophe: The solutions to one crisis pave the way for some equal or greater future disaster. (William McNeill)

Law of False Alerts: As the rate of erroneous alerts increases, operator reliance, or belief, in subsequent warnings decreases. (George Spafford)

Lewandowski Law: In cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream. (Gary Lewandowski)

Lister’s Law: People under time pressure don’t think faster. (Timothy Lister)

Lloyd’s Hypothesis: Everything that’s worth understanding about a complex system, can be understood in terms of how it processes information. (Seth Lloyd)

Metcalfe’s Law: The value of a network grows as the square of the number of its users. (Robert Metcalfe)

Moore’s Law: Transistor die sizes are cut in half every 24 months. Therefore, both the number of transistors on a chip and the speed of each transistor double every 18 (or 12 or 24) months. (Gordon Moore)

Mulder’s Law: (originally Sinusoidal angular oscillation, now a law of survival) Trust no one. (“Fox Mulder”, X-Files character)

Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will. (Edward A Murphy, 1949)

Corollaries: (1) It can. (2) it will. (3) at the most inopportune time (sometimes called “MacGillicuddy’s Corollary”). (4) If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it. (5) Any post written to correct editing or proofreading will itself contain an editing or proofreading error

Nathan’s First Law: Software is a gas; it expands to fill its container. (Nathan Myhrvold)

Ninety-Ninety Law: The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time. (Tom Cargill)

Occam’s Razor: The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct. (William of Occam)
Osborn’s Law: Variables won’t; constants aren’t. (Don Osborn)

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. (C Northcote Parkinson)

Pareto Principle: 20% of the people own 80% of the country’s assets. Corollaries: (1) 20% of the effort generates 80% of the results. (Vilfredo Pareto)

Pesticide Paradox: Every method you use to prevent or find bugs leaves a residue of subtler bugs against which those methods are ineffectual. (Bruce Beizer)

Peter Principle: In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. (Laurence J Peter)

Poe’s Law: Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing. (Nathan Poe, 2005)

Corollaries: (1) Without a deliberate indication of humor, at least one person will mistake any parody for the real thing. (2) Without a deliberate indication of humor, it is impossible to tell some instances of parody from the real thing

Red Queen Principle: For an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just in order to maintain its fitness relative to the system it is co-evolving with. (Leigh van Valen)

Reimer’s Reason: Nobody ever ignores what they should ignore on the Internet.

Rock’s Law: The cost of semiconductor fabrication equipment doubles every four years. (Arthur Rock)

Rothbard’s Law: Everyone specializes in their own area of weakness. (Murray Rothbard)

Rule of 1950: The probability that automated decisions systems will be adopted is approximately one divided by one plus the number of individuals involved in the approval process who were born in 1950 or before squared. (Frank Demmler)

Russo’s Theorem: As anonymity increases, likelihood of incivility increases (Chris Russo, 2009)

Sayer’s Law: The intensity of an online argument is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue. (Wallace Stanley Sayer, 1972)

Sixty-Sixty Law: Sixty percent of software’s dollar is spent on maintenance, and sixty percent of that maintenance is enhancement. (Robert Glass)

Skitt’s Law: The likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster

Spector’s Law: The time it takes your favorite application to complete a given task doubles with each new revision. (Lincoln Spector)

Stigler’s Law: No scientific discovery gets named for its original discoverer. (Stephen Stigler)

Sturgeon’s Law: Ninety percent of everything is crap. (Theodore Sturgeon)

Tesler’s Law of Conservation of Complexity: You cannot reduce the complexity of a given task beyond a certain point. Once you’ve reached that point, you can only shift the burden around. (Larry Tesler)

Tesler’s Theorem: Artificial Intelligence is whatever hasn’t been done yet. (Larry Tesler)

Vokai’s Law: If you can imagine it, there is porn of it.

Corollaries: (1) If you can imagine it, and there is NOT porn of it, porn will be created. (sometimes called “Munroe’s Corollary”)

Weibull’s Power Law: The logarithm of failure rates increases linearly with the logarithm of age. (Waloddi Weibull)

Weinberg’s Law: If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization. (Gerald M Weinberg)

Wirth’s Law: Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster. (Nicklaus Wirth)

Zawinski’s Law: Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can. (Jamie Zawinski)

About OP Juan

Oscar de Pedro Juan has a background in Law Enforcement and Technology. His current employment allows him the luxury of not only reviewing and writing about high tech -- and low-brow -- crime, but he is often in a position to perform detailed investigation of a subject.
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