Foundations of Physics Letters

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 255–266 | Cite as

Why Occam’S Razor

Article

Abstract

Ensemble theories have received a lot of interest recently as a means of explaining a lot of the detailed complexity observed in reality by a vastly simpler description “every possibility exists” and a selection principle (Anthropic Principle) “we only observe that which is consistent with our existence.” In this paper I show why, in an ensemble theory of the universe, we should be inhabiting one of the elements of that ensemble with least information content that satisfies the anthropic principle. This explains the effectiveness of aesthetic principles such as Occam’s razor in predicting usefulness of scientific theories. I also show, with a couple of reasonable assumptions about the phenomenon of consciousness, that the linear structure of quantum mechanics can be derived.

Key words

Occam’s razor anthropic principle ensemble theories multiverse failure of induction foundation of quantum mechanics 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    E. P. Wigner,Symmetries and Reflections (MIT Press, Cambridge, 1967).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. D. Barrow and F. J. Tipler,The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Clarendon, Oxford, 1986).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Max Tegmark, “Is ‘the theory of everything’ merely the ultimate ensemble theory,“Ann. Phys. 270, 1–51 (1998).MATHCrossRefADSMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jürgen Schmidhuber, “A computer scientist’s view of life, the universe and everything,” In C. Freska, M. Jantzen, and R. Valk, eds.,Foundations of Computer Science: Potential-Theory-Cognition, volume 1337 ofLecture Notes in Computer Science, pp. 201–208 (Springer, Berlin, 1997).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jürgen Schmidhuber, “Algorithmic theories of everything,” Technical Report IDSIA-20-00, IDSIA, Galleria 2, 6928 Manno (Lugano), Switzerland, 2000; arXiv:quant-ph/0011122.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ming Li and Paul Vitányi,An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and its Applications, 2nd edn. (Springer, New York, 1997).MATHGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    J. Leslie,The End of the World (Routledge, London, 1996).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    B. Carter, “The anthropic principle and its implications for biological evolution,”Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond.,A310, 347–363 (1983).CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    John Leslie,Universes (Routledge, New York, 1989).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bruno Marchai, “Conscience et mécanisme,” Technical Report TR/IRIDIA/95, Brussels University, 1995.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bruno Marchai, “Computation, consciousness and the quantum,”Teorie e modelli 6, 29–44 (2001).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gunther Ludwig,Foundations of Quantum Mechanics I (Springer, Berlin, 1983).MATHGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Henry P. Stapp, “The basis problem in many-world theories,”Canadian J. Phys. 80, 1043–1052 (2002); arXiv:quantph/0110148.CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Donald L. Cohn,Measure Theory (Birkhäuser, Boston, 1980).MATHGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Martin Bohner and Allan Peterson,Dynamic Equations on Time Scales (Birkhäuser, Boston, 2001).MATHGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ramamurti Shankar,Principles of Quantum Mechanics (Plenum, New York, 1980).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Victor Stenger, “The comprehensible cosmos,” Draft book: http://spot.colorado.edu/~vstenger/nothing.html.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Steven Weinberg, “Testing quantum mechanics,”Ann. Phys. 194, 336–386 (1989).CrossRefADSMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Steven Weinberg,Dreams of a Final Theory (Pantheon, New-York, 1992).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bryce de Witt and R. Neill Graham,The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1973).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MathematicsUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations