List of Eponymous Laws

04 Mar 2013

I was recently reminded of Brooks’s Law—that “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later”—and it led me to Wikipedia’s full list of eponymous laws.

Besides the classic Asimov robotics laws and Clarke’s laws, a few of my favorites:

Benford’s Law: In any collection of statistics, a given statistic has roughly a 30% chance of starting with the digit 1.

Betteridge’s Law: Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered with a “no”.

Conway’s Law: Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of the organization.

Gall’s Law: A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked.

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

Kerckhoff’s Principle: A cryptosystem should be secure even if everything about the system, except the key, is public knowledge.

Linus’s Law: Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.

Mooers’s Law: An information retrieval system will tend not to be used whenever it is more painful and troublesome for a customer to have information than for him not to have it.

Niven’s Law of Time Travel: If the universe of discourse permits the possibility of time travel and of changing the past, then no time machine will be invented in that universe.

Peter Principle: Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.

Now I’m off to inspect the even-longer Wikipedia list of paradoxes.