Fundamentals of Merfology

Murphy’s Law.

A universal philosophical principle, that if any trouble can happen, it happens.

Philosophy of Murphy.

Smile … tomorrow it will get worse.

The constant of Murphy.

The degree of discretion of any case is inversely proportional to its significance.


In 1949, on the basis of the US Air Force Edwards in California, investigated the causes of aircraft accidents. Serving at the base of Captain Ed Murphy (v. Murphy, English Murphy), assessing the work of the technicians of one of the laboratories, argued that if you can do anything wrong, then these techniques will do exactly so.

The project manager from the company Northrop J. Nichols called these permanent problems “Murphy’s law.” At one of the press conferences, the Air Force Colonel who conducted her said that everything achieved to ensure the safety of flights is the result of overcoming the “Murphy law”. So the expression fell into the press. In the next few months, this principle became widely used in industrial advertising and came to life.


In the modern interpretation, the Murphy law is usually easiest to formulate in terms of classical probability theory:

If n trials are performed, the result of each of which is estimated by the Boolean function z, and the result “lie” is undesirable, then for sufficiently large n, at least for one test A we get an undesirable result.

Murphy’s law is confirmed in all practical tests. This, to some extent, relates Murphy’s law to Fermat’s large theorem.

Comment by Callaghan.

Murphy was an optimist.

Callaghan’s later comment was reformulated in a more rigorous form:

For any n, there is m, and m <n, such that if n is large enough to fulfill Murphy's law under given specific conditions, then m trials are sufficient to at least one of them gave an undesirable result.


Consequences from Murphy’s law were first published in Arthur Bloch’s book The Murphy’s Law. The authorship is not established (most likely, not actually Ed Murphy).

Consequences were published in a verbal form, not without a share of humor. Today this form is called “canonical”. All consequences in canonical formulations should be understood as taking place under the conditions of Murphy’s law, i.e. for a sufficiently large number of trials, subject to the availability of a function assessing the desirability or undesirability of a particular event. With this in mind, modern strict formulation of the consequences is developed.

The first-fifth corollaries are formulated, like the Murphy’s law, in terms of probability theory; The sixth and seventh consequences are of a more general philosophical nature.

First and second.

The canonical formulation:

1) Everything is not as easy as it seems.

2) All work takes more time than you think.

In fact, this is one principle. Its strict formulation:

If there is an evaluation function, and the desired values ​​are nonnegative, and it is known that for n trials the function gives nonnegative values ​​with sufficient confidence, there is always m> n, such that for m tests the function will necessarily give a significant amount negative values.


The canonical formulation:

Of all the troubles, the one will occur, the damage from which is greater.

Strict wording:

If there are several possible outcomes for each of the events, and some of the options are undesirable, and to varying degrees, then as the number of trials increases, the probability of the most undesired version falling out tends to one.

This consequence is quite controversial. Many scientists believe that even if Murphy’s law is proved, the third investigation can not be proved; many scientists believe that it will be possible to refute it (to this day it is done, however, failed).


The canonical formulation:

If the four causes of possible troubles are eliminated in advance, then there is always a fifth.

Strict statement:

If the outcome of an event depends on an infinite number of a priori factors, and of them n are found, which is reliably known that their presence will lead to an undesirable outcome, then there always exists (n + 1) th such factor.


The canonical formulation:

Given to oneself, events tend to develop from bad to worse.

Strict wording:

With an unlimited increase in the number of trials, the likelihood of an undesirable outcome increases.

The sixth.

The canonical formulation:

As soon as you begin to do some work, there is another, which must be done even earlier.

Strict statement:

For any process there is one, without which the given is impossible.

The seventh.

The canonical formulation:

Every solution produces new problems.

Strict language:

Elimination of factors that may lead to an undesirable outcome, reveals new such factors.

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