Murphy's Laws and Other Observations

Murphy's Laws

O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Laws

Murphy was an optimist.

Ginsberg's Theorems

Forsyth's Second Corollary to Murphy's Laws

Just when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, the roof caves in.

Weiler's Law

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself.

The Laws of Computer Programming

Pierce's Law

In any computer system, the machine will always misinterpret, misconstrue, misprint, or not evaluate any math or subroutines or fail to print any output on at least the first run through.

Corollary to Pierce's Law

When a compiler accepts a program without error on the first run, the program will not yield the desired output.

Addition to Murphy's Laws

In nature, nothing is ever right. Therefore, if everything is going right ... something is wrong.

Brook's Law

If at first you don't succeed, transform your data set!

Grosch's Law

Computing power increases as the square of the cost.

Golub's Laws of Computerdom

Osborn's Law

Variables won't; constants aren't.

Gilb's Laws of Unreliability

Lubarsky's Law of Cybernetic Entomology

There's always one more bug.

Troutman's Postulate

Weinberg's Second Law

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.

Gumperson's Law

The probability of anything happening is in inverse ratio to its desirability.

Gummidge's Law

The amount of expertise varies in inverse ratio to the number of statements understood by the general public.

Zymurgy's First Law of Evolving System Dynamics

Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can (old worms never die, they just worm their way into larger cans).

Harvard's Law, as Applied to Computers

Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity and other variables, the computer will do as it damn well pleases.

Sattinger's Law

It works better if you plug it in.

Jenkinson's Law

It won't work.

Horner's Five Thumb Postulate

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.

Cheop's Law

Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.

Rule of Accuracy

When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you know the answer.

Zymurg's Seventh Exception to Murphy's Law

When it rains, it pours.

Pudder's Laws

Westheimer's Rule

To estimate the time it takes to do a task: estimate the time you think it should take, multiply by two and change the unit of measure to the next highest unit. Thus, we allocate two days for a one hour task.

Stockmayer's Theorem

If it looks easy, it's tough. If it looks tough, it's damn near impossible.

Atwood's Corollary

No books are lost by lending except those you particularly wanted to keep.

Johnson's Third Law

If you miss one issue of any magazine, it will be the issue that contains the article, story or installment you were most anxious to read.

Corollary to Johnson's Third Law

All of your friends either missed it, lost it or threw it out.

Harper's Magazine Law

You never find the article until you replace it.

Brooke's Law

Adding manpower to a late software makes it later.

Finagle's Fourth Law

Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it will only make it worse.

Featherkile's Rule

Whatever you did, that's what you planned.

Flap's Law

Any inanimate object, regardless of its position, configuration or purpose, may be expected to perform at any time in a totally unexpected manner for reasons that are either entirely obscure or else completely mysterious.

Original published by Burkhard Kirste, 1993/07/17.