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S. G. Sterrett
preprint description
The topic of this Handbook entry is the relationship between similarity and dimensional analysis, and some of the philosophical issues involved in understanding and making use of that relationship. Discusses basics of the relationship between units, dimensions, and quantities. It explains the significance of dimensionless parameters, and explains that similarity of a physical systems is established by showing equality of a certain set of dimensionless parameters that characterizes the system behavior. Similarity is always relative -- to some system behavior. Other topics discussed: generalization of the notion of similarity, the difference between relative similarity and partial similarity; how the notion of similarity in science differs from similarity as it has been discussed in recent philosophy. Philosophers' views discussed: R. Giere, N. Goodman, P. Bridgman, and B. Ellis.

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