# How to Tell When Simpler, More Unified, or Less Ad Hoc Theories will Provide More Accurate Predictions

@article{Forster1994HowTT, title={How to Tell When Simpler, More Unified, or Less Ad Hoc Theories will Provide More Accurate Predictions}, author={Malcolm R. Forster and Elliott Sober}, journal={The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science}, year={1994}, volume={45}, pages={1 - 35} }

Traditional analyses of the curve fitting problem maintain that the data do not indicate what form the fitted curve should take. Rather, this issue is said to be settled by prior probabilities, by simplicity, or by a background theory. In this paper, we describe a result due to Akaike [1973], which shows how the data can underwrite an inference concerning the curve's form based on an estimate of how predictively accurate it will be. We argue that this approach throws light on the theoretical… Expand

#### Topics from this paper

#### 548 Citations

Simplicity is not Truth-Indicative

- Computer Science
- 2007

It is argued that, in general, where the evidence supports two theories equally, the simpler theory is not more likely to be true and is notlikely to be nearer the truth and Occam's razor eliminates itself. Expand

Non-bayesian foundations for statistical estimation, prediction, and the ravens example

- Mathematics
- 1994

The paper provides a formal proof that efficient estimates of parameters, which vary as as little as possible when measurements are repeated, may be expected to provide more accurate predictions. The… Expand

The Curve Fitting Problem: A Bayesian Rejoinder

- Mathematics
- Philosophy of Science
- 1999

In the curve fitting problem two conflicting desiderata, simplicity and goodness-of-fit pull in opposite directions. To solve this problem, two proposals, the first one based on Bayes's theorem… Expand

The Problem of Underdetermination in Model Selection

- Computer Science
- Sociological Methodology
- 2018

A new paradigm for inference-oriented model selection is proposed that evaluates models on the basis of a trade-off between model fit and model plausibility by comparing the fits of sequentially nested models to derive an empirical lower bound for the subjective plausibility of assumptions. Expand

Comment: The Inferential Information Criterion from a Bayesian Point of View

- Computer Science
- Sociological Methodology
- 2018

1. The Bayesian information criterion (BIC) has been proposed as a way to carry out Bayesian hypothesis testing when there are no clear expectations. However, the BIC rests on a particular prior… Expand

BAYESIAN OCKHAM’S RAZOR AND NESTED MODELS

- Computer Science
- Economics and Philosophy
- 2019

This paper will discuss a problem that results when Bayesian Ockham’s razor is applied to nested economic models and argue that previous responses to the problem are unsatisfactory and develop a novel reply. Expand

Model Selection in Science: The Problem of Language Variance

- Mathematics
- The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
- 1999

Recent solutions to the curve-fitting problem, described in Forster and Sober ([1995]), trade off the simplicity and fit of hypotheses by defining simplicity as the paucity of adjustable parameters.… Expand

How To Remove the Ad Hoc Features of Statistical Inference within a Frequentist Paradigm

- 2001

Our aim is to develop a frequentist theory of decision-making. The resulting unification of the seemingly unrelated theories of hypothesis testing and parameter estimation is based on a new… Expand

Simplicity, Inference and Modelling: What is the problem of simplicity?

- Mathematics
- 2002

The problem of simplicity involves three questions: How is the simplicity of a hypothesis to be measured? How is the use of simplicity as a guide to hypothesis choice to be justified? And how is… Expand

Coherence, Explanation, and Hypothesis Selection

- Computer Science
- The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
- 2021

By overcoming some of the problems with the previous approach, this work provides a more adequate defence of IBE and suggests that IBE not only tracks truth but also has practical advantages over the previous approaches. Expand

#### References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 108 REFERENCES

Non-bayesian foundations for statistical estimation, prediction, and the ravens example

- Mathematics
- 1994

The paper provides a formal proof that efficient estimates of parameters, which vary as as little as possible when measurements are repeated, may be expected to provide more accurate predictions. The… Expand

Ockham's Razor and Bayesian Analysis

- Computer Science
- 1992

'Ockham's razor', the ad hoc principle enjoining the greatest possible simplicity in theoretical explanations, is presently shown to be justifiable as a consequence of Bayesian inference; Bayesian… Expand

Ockham’s Razor

- Mathematics
- 1991

William of Ockham’s razor principle, that the simplest theory to fit noisy data closely should be preferred, is expressible quantitatively in Bayesian terms. There is a trade-off between simplicity… Expand

Logical versus Historical Theories of Confirmation

- Philosophy
- The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
- 1974

Thales predicted an eclipse, and became one of the Seven Sages. Since then many have urged that a scientific theory is to be especially prized if it yields successful predictions. For example,… Expand

The Curve Fitting Problem: A Solution1

- Mathematics
- The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
- 1990

Much of scientific inference involves fitting numerical data with a curve, or functional relation. The received view is that the fittest curve is the curve which best balances the conflicting demands… Expand

Scientific Reasoning: The Bayesian Approach

- Computer Science
- 1989

This new edition of Howson and Urbach's account of scientific method from the Bayesian standpoint includes chapter exercises and extended material on topics such as regression analysis, distributions densities, randomisation and conditionalisation. Expand

How the Laws of Physics Lie.

- Philosophy
- 1990

Nancy Cartwright argues for a novel conception of the role of fundamental scientific laws in modern natural science. If we attend closely to the manner in which theoretical laws figure in the… Expand

Reconstructing the Past: Parsimony, Evolution, and Inference

- Biology
- 1989

Elliott Sober builds a general framework for understanding the circumstances in which parsimony makes sense as a tool of phylogenetic inference, and provides a detailed critique of parsimony in the biological literature, exploring the strengths and limitations of both statistical and nonstatistical cladistic arguments. Expand

A Realistic Theory of Science.

- Philosophy
- 1987

It is the main contention of Cliff Hooker's new book that a realistic theory of science, a theory which gives a good account of what actually goes on in science, should be based on realism. Many… Expand