「華人戴明學院」是戴明哲學的學習共同體 ,致力於淵博型智識系統的研究、推廣和運用。 The purpose of this blog is to advance the ideas and ideals of W. Edwards Deming.

2016年10月14日 星期五

A war on a concept is unwinnable;可運作定義 operational definition 和應用例:資本主義、空污觀測站

Politicians have been unable to resist the temptation to declare war on things like poverty (Lyndon Johnson), drugs (Ronald Reagan) or terrorism (George Bush). Declaring such “wars” is a problem: poverty and drugs will never show up and sign a surrender document

Reagan announced that drugs were a threat to national security on this day in 1982

詹政財‎ 加入 對我是台灣人.台灣是咱的國家說讚的朋友









***** 國民黨的「防磚條款」僅規定候選人民調必須超過三成,卻沒規範這三成要怎麼來。熟悉民調技術的人都知道,不僅互比、對比或者候選人自比會有不同的民調數據,就連問卷的設計、表態率(訪員是否追問立場?可以問幾次?)以及用什麼參數回歸、還原、推估都會造成不同的民調數據。換言之,要透過民調「技術」將洪秀柱做到三成以上支持度不是難事,要將洪秀柱的支持率壓到三成以下更是容易,這完全存乎一心。2015.5.30 


關於本節目 資本主義是從哪裡來的?他是隨著我們社會的自然演化所導致的?或是被隨著政治與科技環境的改變而改變的論述所主導?...


"對一概念或詞語之理解,須經由操作行為而顯明者,稱為「操作定義」。"這是教育部國語詞典對operational definition的不完善界說


"缺腿的小熊算是熊嗎? ".可運作的定義 operational definition

可運作的定義 operational definition
"缺腿的小熊算是熊嗎? ".......

Winn-Dixie Voluntarily Recalls Gummy Bears

The affected bulk gummy bears are being recalled because of possible metal contamination. Consumption of food containing small amounts of metal might be harmful to a person’s health.
These gummy bears were sold in the self-serve bulk areas of select Winn-Dixie stores’ produce departments. The recalled gummy bears were sold in the stores from November 14 until December 13.
The following Winn-Dixie stores in different areas of Louisiana and Florida were selling recalled “Sunrise Assorted Flavor Gummy Bears:”
St. John Commons in W. Jacksonville,Florida
Concord Shopping Mall inMiami,Florida
Main StreetSquare inFern Park,Florida
Pepper Tree Plaza in Margate,Florida
Store in 70431 Hi-way 21,Covington,Los Angeles
The grocery chain is implementing a voluntary recall out of caution, in order to prevent any possible medical emergencies resulting from consumption of the affected product. To date, there have been no reports of illnesses that are related to the recalled gummy bears.

Mary Kellmanson, group vice president for marketing of Winn-Dixie, is encouraging guests and consumers that have concerns (about the product or recall) to return the gummy bears in order to be given full refund. Winn-Dixie will refund the recalled product without any questions asked. Consumers who have questions about the recall, or the gummy bears, can contact Winn-Dixie’sGuestServiceCenter. The center’s toll-free number is 1-866-WINN-DIXIE, or 1-866-946-6349.

Wikipedia article "Operational definition". 有Deming的說法

An operational definition is a showing of something—such as a variable, term, or object—in terms of the specific process or set of validation tests used to determine its presence and quantity. Properties described in this manner must be publicly accessible so that persons other than the definer can independently measure or test for them at will. An operational definition is generally designed to model a conceptual definition.
For example, the weight of an object may be operationally defined in terms of the specific steps of putting an object on a weighing scale. The weight is whatever results from following the measurement procedure, which can in principle be repeated by anyone. It is intentionally not defined in terms of some intrinsic or private essence. The operational definition of weight is just the result of what happens when the defined procedure is followed. In other words, what's being defined is how to measure weight for any arbitrary object, and only incidentally the weight of a given object.
Operational definitions are also used to define system states in terms of a specific, publicly accessible process of preparation or validation testing, which is repeatable at will. For example, 100 degrees Celsius may be crudely defined by describing the process of heating water until it is observed to boil. An item like a brick, or even a photograph of a brick, may be defined in terms of how it can be made. Likewise, iron may be defined in terms of the results of testing or measuring it in particular ways.
One simple, every day illustration of an operational definition is defining a cake in terms of how it is prepared and baked (i.e., its recipe is an operational definition). Similarly, the saying, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be some kind of duck, may be regarded as involving a sort of measurement process or set of tests (see Duck test).


If a definition invokes an historical event, such as having weighed an object sometime in the past, it is no longer repeatable, so it fails to qualify as operational. Similarly, a specific brick cannot be operationally defined by the process of making it, because that process is historical. (But see the example of the constellation Virgo below for a discussion of how to avoid this difficulty.)
Operational definitions are inherently difficult — arguably, even impossible — to apply to mental entities, because these latter are generally understand to be accessible only to the individual who experiences them and are therefore not independently verifiable. According to this line of thinking, a person's mental image of a brick cannot be operationally defined because it cannot be measured from outside that person's mood. Philosopher Daniel Dennett has argued that first-person operationalism is possible and desirable, using the anthropological version of the scientific method to bring the mind fully into the third-person realm required by science. As part of the Multiple Drafts Model of consciousness, Dennett defines a process he calls heterophenomenology, by which the mental is defined operationally in terms of the observed behavior of the subject.


Despite the controversial philosophical origins of the concept, particularly its close association with logical positivism, operational definitions have undisputed practical applications. This is especially so in the social and medical sciences, where operational definitions of key terms are used to preserve the unambiguous empirical testability of hypothesis and theory. Operational definitions are also important in the physical sciences.

Relevance to philosophy

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says the following about Operationalism stored at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/ and written by Richard Boyd:
The idea originally arises in the operationalist philosophy of P. W. Bridgman and others. By 1914, Bridgman was dismayed by the abstraction and lack of clarity with which, he argued, many scientific concepts were expressed. Inspired by logical positivism and the phenomenalism of Ernst Mach, in 1914 he declared that the meaning of a theoretical term (or unobversable entity), such as electron density, lay in the operations, physical and mental, performed in its measurement. The goal was to eliminate all reference to theoretical entities by "rationally reconstructing" them in terms of the particular operations of laboratory procedures and experimentation.
Hence, the term electron density could be analyzed into a statement of the following form:
(*) The electron density of an object, O, is given by the value, x, if and only if P applied to O yields the value x,
where P stands for an instrument that scientists take as a procedure for measuring electron density.
Operationalism, defined in this way, was rejected even by the logical positivists, due to inherent problems: defining terms operationally necessarily implied the analytic necessity of the definition. The analyticity of operational definitions like (*) is essential to the project of rational reconstruction. Operationalism is not, for example, the idea that electron density is defined as whatever magnitude instruments of the sort P reliably measure. On that conception (*) would represent an empirical discovery about how to measure electron density, but -- since electrons are unobservables -- that's a realist conception not an empiricist one. What the project of rational reconstruction requires is that (*) be true purely as a matter of linguistic stipulation about how the term "electron density" is to be used.
Since (*) is supposed to be analytic, it's supposed to be unrevisable. There is supposed to be no such thing as discovering, about P, that some other instrument provides a more accurate value for electron density, or provides values for electron density under conditions where P doesn't function. Here again, thinking that there could be such an improvement in P with respect to electron density requires thinking of electron density as a real feature of the world which P (perhaps only approximately) measures. But that's the realist conception that operationalism is designed rationally to do away with!
In actual, and apparently reliable, scientific practice, changes in the instrumentation associated with theoretical terms are routine, and apparently crucial to the progress of science. According to a 'pure' operationalist conception, these sorts of modifications would not be methodologically acceptable, since each definition must be considered to identify a unique 'object' (or class of objects). In practice, however, an 'operationally defined' object is often taken to be that object which is determined by a constellation of different unique 'operational procedures.'
Most logical empiricists were not willing to accept the conclusion that operational definitions must be unique (in contradiction to 'established' scientific practice). So they felt compelled to reject operationalism. [[In the end, it reduces to a reductio ad absurdem, since each measuring instrument must itself be operationally defined, in infinite regress... But this was also a failure of the logical positivist approach generally.]]

However, this rejection of operationalism as a general project destined ultimately to define all experiential phenomena uniquely did not mean that operational definitions ceased to have any practical use or that they could not be applied in particular cases.

Relevance to science

Operational definitions are at their most controversial in the field of psychology, where intuitive concepts, such as intelligence need to be operationally defined before they become amenable to scientific investigation, for example, through processes such as IQ tests. Such definitions are used as a follow up to a conceptual definition, in which the specific concept is defined as a measurable occurrence. John Stuart Mill pointed out the dangers of believing that anything that could be given a name must refer to a thing and Stephen Jay Gould and others have criticized psychologists for doing just that. A committed operationalist would respond that speculation about the thing in itself, or noumenon, should be resisted as meaningless, and would comment only on phenomena using operationally defined terms and tables of operationally defined measurements.
A behaviorist psychologist might (operationally) define intelligence as that score obtained on a specific IQ test (e.g., the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale test) by a human subject. The theoretical underpinnings of the WAIS would be completely ignored. This WAIS measurement would only be useful to the extent it could be shown to be related to other operationally defined measurements, e.g., to the measured probability of graduation from university. [1]

Relevance to business

On October 15 1970, the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne, Australia collapsed, killing 35 construction workers. The subsequent enquiry found that the failure arose because engineers had specified the supply of a quantity of flat steel plate. The word flat in this context lacked an operational definition, so there was no test for accepting or rejecting a particular shipment or for controlling quality.
In his managerial and statistical writings, W. Edwards Deming placed great importance on the value of using operational definitions in all agreements in business. As he said:
"An operational definition is a procedure agreed upon for translation of a concept into measurement of some kind." - W. Edwards Deming
"There is no true value of any characteristic, state, or condition that is defined in terms of measurement or observation. Change of procedure for measurement (change of operational definition) or observation produces a new number." - W. Edwards Deming

Relevance to process

Operational, in a process context, also can denote a working method or a philosophy that focuses principally on cause and effect relationships (or stimulus/response, behavior, ...) of specific interest to a particular domain at a particular point in time. As a working method, it does not consider issues related to a domain that are more general, such as the ontological, etc.
The term can be used strictly within the realm of the interactions of humans with advanced computational systems. In this sense, an AI system cannot be entirely operational (this issue can be used to discuss strong versus weak AI) if learning is involved.
Given that one motive for the operational approach is stability, systems that relax the operational factor can be problematic, for several reasons, as the operational is a means to manage complexity. There will be differences in the nature of the operational as it pertains to degrees along the end-user computing axis.
For instance, a Knowledge Based Engineering system can enhance its operational aspect and thereby its stability through more involvement by the SME, of course, thereby opening up issues of limits that are related to being human, in the sense that, many times, computational results have to be taken at face value due to several factors (hence the Duck test's necessity arises) that even an expert cannot overcome. The end proof may be the final results (reasonable facsimile by simulation or artifact, working design, etc.) that are not guaranteed to be repeatable, may have been costly to attain (time and money), and so forth.
Many domains, with a numerics focus, use limits logic to overcome the Duck test necessity with varying degrees of success. Complex situations may require logic to be more non-monotonic than not raising concerns related to the qualification, frame, and ramification problems.



The thermodynamic definition of temperature, due to Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot, refers to heat "flowing" between "infinite reservoirs". This is all highly abstract and unsuited for the day-to-day world of science and trade. In order to make the idea concrete, temperature is defined in terms of operations with the gas thermometer. However, these are sophisticated and delicate instruments, only adapted to the national standardization laboratory.
For day-to-day use, the International Practical Temperature Scale (IPTS) is used, defining temperature in terms of the electrical resistance of a thermistor, with specified construction, calibrated against operationally defined fixed points.

Electric current

Electric current is defined in terms of the force between two infinite parallel conductors, separated by a specified distance. This definition is too abstract for practical measurement, so a device known as a current balance is used to define the ampere operationally.

Mechanical hardness

Unlike temperature and electric current, there is no abstract physical concept of the hardness of a material. It is a slightly vague, subjective idea, somewhat like the idea of intelligence. In fact, it leads to three more specific ideas:
  1. Scratch hardness measured on Mohs' scale;
  2. Indentation hardness; and
  3. Rebound, or dynamic, hardness measured with a Shore scleroscope.
Of these, indentation hardness itself leads to many operational definitions, the most important of which are:
  1. Brinell hardness test—using a 10 mm steel ball;
  2. Vickers hardness test—using a pyramidal diamond indenter; and
  3. Rockwell hardness test—using a diamond cone indenter.
In all these, a process is defined for loading the indenter, measuring the resulting indentation and calculating a hardness number. Each of these three sequences of measurement operations produces numbers that are consistent with our subjective idea of hardness. The harder the material to our informal perception, the greater the number it will achieve on our respective hardness scales. Furthermore, experimental results obtained using these measurement methods has shown that the hardness number can be used to predict the stress required to permanently deform steel, a characteristic that fits in well with our idea of resistance to permanent deformation. However, there is not always a simple relationship between the various hardness scales. Vickers and Rockwell hardness numbers exhibit qualitatively different behaviour when used to describe some materials and phenomena.

The constellation Virgo

The constellation Virgo is a specific constellation of stars in the sky, hence the process of forming Virgo cannot be an operational definition, since it is historical and not repeatable. Nevertheless, the process whereby we locate Virgo in the sky is repeatable, so in this way, Virgo is operatonally defined. In fact, Virgo can have any number of definitions (although we can never prove that we are talking about the same Virgo), and any number may be operational.

Duck typing

In advanced modeling, with the requisite computational support such as KBE, mappings must be maintained between a real-world object, its abstracted counterparts as defined by the domain and its experts, and the computer models. Mismatches between domain models and their computational mirrors can raise issues that are apropos to this topic. Techniques that allow the flexible modeling required for many hard problems must resolve issues of identity, type, etc. which then lead to methods, such as Duck typing.

Conceptual vs operational definition

Conceptual definition Operational definition
Weight: a measurement of gravitational force acting on an object a result of measurement of an object on a Newton spring scale


  • Ballantyne, Paul F. History and Theory of Psychology Course, in Langfeld, H.S. (1945) Introduction to the Symposium on Operationism. Psyc. Rev. 32, 241-243.[2]
  • Bohm, D. (1996). On dialog. N.Y.: Routledge.
  • Boyd, Richard. On the Current Status of the Issue of Scientific Realism in Erkenntnis. 19: 45-90.
  • Bridgman, P. W. The way things are. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (1959)
  • Carnap, R. The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language in Ayer, A.J. 1959.
  • Churchland, Patricia, Neurophilosophy— Toward a unified science of the mind/brain, MIT Press (1986).
  • Churchland, Paul., A Neurocomputational Perspective— The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science, MIT Press (1989).
  • Dennett, Daniel C. Consciousness Explained, Little, Brown & Co.. 1992.
  • Depraz, N. (1999). "The phenomenological reduction as praxis." Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6(2-3), 95-110.
  • Hardcastle, G. L. (1995). "S.S. Stevens and the origins of operationism." Philosophy of Science, 62, 404-424.
  • Hermans, H. J. M. (1996). "Voicing the self: from information processing to dialogical interchange." Psychological Bulletin, 119(1), 31-50.
  • Hyman, Bronwen, U of Toronto, and Shephard, Alfred H., U of Manitoba, "Zeitgeist: The Development of an Operational Definition", The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 1(2), pps. 227-246 (1980)
  • Leahy, Thomas H., Virginia Commonwealth U, The Myth of Operationism, ibid, pps. 127-144 (1980)
  • Ribes-Inesta, Emilio "What Is Defined In Operational Definitions? The Case Of Operant Psychology," Behavior and Philosophy, 2003.[3]
  • Roepstorff, A. & Jack, A. (2003). "Editorial introduction, Special Issue: Trusting the Subject? (Part 1)." Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10(9-10), v-xx.
  • Roepstorff, A. & Jack, A. (2004). "Trust or Interaction? Editorial introduction, Special Issue: Trusting the Subject? (Part 2)." Journal of Consciousness Studies, 11(7-8), v-xxii.
  • Stevens, S. S. Operationism and logical positivism, in M. H. Marx (Ed.), Theories in contemporary psychology (pp. 47-76). New York: MacMillan. (1963)
  • Thomson — Waddsworth, eds., Learning Psychology: Operational Definitions Research Methods Workshops[4]

See also

go a long way towards doing sth

Percey Bridgman's operationalism also went a long way toward undermining the simplistic naive realism of earlier science:
The Logic of Modern Physics,

Top Story Those Millions on Facebook? Some May Not Actually Visit On the first page of Facebook's prospectus for its sale of stock to the public, it pegs the number of its "monthly active users" at a whopping 845 million people. The social networking site arrives at an even more astounding number when it comes to "daily active users": 483 million people.

Those are some huge numbers. If it is hard to believe that so many people are clicking on facebook.com every day, that's because well, they aren't, exactly. Those eye-popping numbers should have an asterisk next to them, Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in his DealBook column.

Facebook counts as "active" users who go to its Web site or its mobile site. But it also counts an entire other category of people who don't click on facebook.com as "active users." According to the company, a user is considered active if he or she "took an action to share content or activity with his or her Facebook friends or connections via a third-party Web site that is integrated with Facebook."

In other words, every time you press the "Like" button on NFL.com, for example, you're an "active user" of Facebook.
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Dubious Measures: Hedge Funds' Reporting Draws Scrutiny
CFA Institute Enterprising Investor
The above quote from US statistician W. Edwards Deming came to mind after I read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that gives good reason for ...