A simple model of scientific progress - with examples
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One of the main goals of scientific research is to provide a description of the empirical data which is as accurate and comprehensive as possible, while relying on as few and simple assumptions as possible. In this paper, I propose a definition of the notion of few and simple assumptions that is not affected by known problems. This leads to the introduction of a simple model of scientific progress that is based only on empirical accuracy and conciseness. An essential point in this task is the understanding of the role played by measurability in the formulation of a scientific theory. This is the key to prevent artificially concise formulations. The model is confronted here with many possible objections and with challenging cases of real progress. Although I cannot exclude that the model might have some limitations, it includes all the cases of genuine progress examined here, and no spurious one. In this model, I stress the role of the state of the art, which is the collection of all the theories that are the only legitimate source of scientific predictions. Progress is a global upgrade of the state of the art.