This is largely an extract of Wikipedia’s Eponymous Lays page. I have added a few other items along the way.
There are 3 sections: Fun Laws, General Laws & Technology Laws. I hope you like it.
The Fun Laws
Dilbert principle – Proposes that “the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.” A.K.A the Peter Principle – “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
Ginsberg’s theorem – a restatement of the laws of thermodynamics:
- You can’t win. (restatement of first law of thermodynamics)
- You can’t break even. (restatement of second law of thermodynamics)
- You can’t even get out of the game. (restatement of third law of thermodynamics)
Freeman’s commentary on Ginsberg’s theorem states:
“Every major philosophy that attempts to make life seem meaningful is based on the negation of one part of Ginsberg’s theorem. To wit:
Hanlon’s razor – “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” or “Do not invoke conspiracy as explanation when ignorance and incompetence will suffice, as conspiracy implies intelligence.”
Herblock‘s law – “If it’s good, they’ll stop making it.”
Hofstadter’s law – “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law” or my version, (Matthews’ Law?) “estimates are called estimates for the same reason that fishing isn’t called catching.” or the Law of System Delivery – “Double your estimate and replace with next unit of time”. For example: original estimate: 6 weeks. Double: 12 weeks. Next unit of time: 12 months.
Kranzberg’s first law of technology – Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral
Littlewood’s law– States that individuals can expect miracles to happen to them, at the rate of about one per month. Littlewood defines a miracle as an exceptional event of special significance occurring at a frequency of one in a million. He assumes that during the hours in which a human is awake and alert, a human will experience one event per second, which may be either exceptional or unexceptional (for instance, seeing the computer screen, the keyboard, the mouse, this article, etc.). Additionally, Littlewood supposes that a human is alert for about eight hours per day.
As a result a human will in 35 days have experienced under these suppositions about one million events. Accepting this definition of a miracle, one can be expected to observe one miraculous occurrence within the passing of every 35 consecutive days – and therefore, according to this reasoning, seemingly miraculous events are actually commonplace.
Mooers’ law – “An information retrieval system will tend not to be used whenever it is more painful for a customer to have information than for him not to have it.”
Murphy’s law – “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.” or “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
Niven’s laws (well some of them) -
- There is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it.
- It is easier to destroy than to create.
- No technique works if it isn’t used.
- Any sufficiently rigorously defined magic is indistinguishable from technology.
- Never fire a laser at a mirror.
- Ethics change with technology.
Parkinson’s law – “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”(ed.: Especially with business analysts) or ” You can waste any amount of time if you have a blog and Nintendo DS.”
Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. “The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved (i.e. the complexity of the subject).”
An expensive or complex project can be difficult for an average person to understand. They will assume that those working on it understand it. People with opinions will withhold them in case they are shown to be ill-informed.
On the other hand, everyone can visualize a simple issue, so everyone involved wants to add his or her touch and show that they have contributed.
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.” (ed.: You’ll notice me doing this a lot responding to some of the comments I get on this blog. *wink*)
Roemer’s law – A hospital bed built is a bed filled.
Sayre’s law – “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue.” By way of corollary, the law adds: “That is why academic politics are so bitter.” (Ed. anyone else thinking of of some of the vitriolic EAs out there in the LinkedIn-o-sphere? he he)
Stewart’s Law of Retroaction: It’s easier to ask forgiveness than get permission.
Sturgeon’s law – “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”
“The Rock’s” (yes, the wrestler) law: “Know your role and shut your hole!”
The 90 – 90 law – “The first 90% of the software takes 90% of the time to build, and the last 10% of the software takes the other 90% of the time.”
Cole’s Law: Thinly sliced cabbage. (ed. Think about it!)
Simple programs never work the first time. Complex programs never work.
Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.
A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. Douglas Adams.
If the car industry behaved like the computer industry over the last 30 years, a Rolls-Royce would cost $5, get 300 miles per gallon, and explode once a year.
An accountant is truly a good accountant when thy have a loophole named after them.
Amdahl’s law – Used to find out the maximum expected improvement to an overall system when only a part of it is improved.
Benford’s law – In any collection of statistics, a given statistic has roughly a 30% chance of starting with the digit 1.
Brooks’ law – “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.” or “The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned.”
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.”
- 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.
- Second law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Dunbar’s number – A theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar’s number, but a commonly cited approximation is 150.
Gibrat’s law —”The size of a firm and its growth rate are independent.”
Grosch’s law – The economic value of computation increases with the square root of the increase in speed—that is, to do a calculation 10 times as cheaply you must do it 100 times as fast.
Hick’s law – In psychology, the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has.
Hotelling’s law in economics – Under some conditions, it is rational for competitors to make their products as nearly identical as possible. (Ed.: Strategy doesn’t always have to be about doing something different.)
Keynes’s law – Demand creates its own supply.
Metcalfe’s law – The value of a system grows as approximately the square of the number of users of the system.
Orgel’s second rule “Evolution is cleverer than you are.”
Pareto principle – States that for many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. (E.g. A manager spends 80% of their time managing 20% of their staff)
Reed’s law – The utility of large networks, particularly social networks, can scale exponentially with the size of the network.
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.” (ed. Gold!!)
Tobler’s first law of geography – “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.”
Amara’s law – “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”
Classen’s law – Theo Classen’s “logarithmic law of usefulness” – ‘usefulness = log(technology)’. In order to achieve a linear improvement in usefulness over time it’s necessary to have an exponential increase in technology over time
Conway’s law – Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it.
Nick Malik’s version of Conway’s Law – All Enterprise Architecture will be implemented according to the structure of ownership and governance that exists in the enterprise. (from “The Rule of EA Governance“)
Koomey’s law – That the energy of computation is halved every year and a half.
Lubarsky’s law of Cybernetic Entomology: “There is always one more bug”
Malik’s Laws of Service Oriented Architecture – Follow the link to see the list.
Wirth’s law – Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster.
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.
So much complexity in software comes from trying to make one thing do two things – Ryan Singer
The probability of a bug manifesting itself in software quadruples when said software is being demonstrated.