# The law of diminishing efforts

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Most people who have some idea about economics would have heard of the malthusian law of diminishing returns which states that the marginal increase in production decreases as more of the contributing factor is used in production. But I am very confident that nobody has heard of "the law of diminishing efforts". That is because it never existed until now.

That is until I coined this right now. Can you believe it? My own, my very own theory of economics. That is Anoop John's first economics theory for you. I have always bemoaned the fact that all these economists that had an edge over me in terms of date of birth had figured out all the easy laws in economics without leaving anything for late entrants like me. But not anymore - Aha - :-).

Humor aside, the theory is not a joke. In fact this is a serious theory on which I have put my trust on, when I quit my job in the US and came back to India. I came back to India because I wanted to play my role in contributing towards solving the problems we face in our everyday lives. Now solving all the problems in our country is a huge task. Too huge for a person or even for a group of people to solve completely. This is where the law of diminishing efforts come into play.

The law of diminishing efforts states that the individual contributions towards a very large and complex task keeps decreasing as more and more people contribute to the task, until each individual has to contribute no more than required of every other individual, had every individual contributed towards performing the task.

Let me try to explain the theory in light of the real life example stated above. Suppose you write down the full list of problems that you wish to solve (and theoretically solvable) in India. If we consider solving this full set of problems as a single task and that x man hours is required for this task and that there are N people in India and n people actually put effort to this task, we have

The average work required of every person = x/N

Limit n => N,

x/n => x/N

with N such a large number x/N would be a very small and manageable value no matter what the size of the problems are. If for arguments sake you claim that not all problems are solvable I will simple restate the set of problems as the set of all problems that are practically solvable and that all solvable problems must be solvable. Most problems that we see around must be solvable.

Setting out after such huge tasks might be daunting at first glance but it is not so. The trick is in scaling up and reaching out. Consider the worst case scenario when n is 1, that is you are alone trying to work towards a solution for some problem. The moment you get another person to fight with you, the effort required from your side halves and this will keep on decreasing as more and more people join the cause.

Simple isn't it? Think you have thought about this before? Too bad, I wrote it down first :-). Don't trust my words - Search Google for "law of diminishing efforts"

I have decided that this is a worthwhile cause for me to dedicate my whole life for and the modus operandi that I have worked out for this is Zyxware. I do not yet have full clarity at the micro level as to where I can contribute and how I am going to contribute but at the macro level I am reasonably clear and confident on where and how. Let us hope that the theory works :-)

I like the new theory. Equally, I liked the examples in your response to the above comment, and the logic in it.

Most theories state the obvious, but it is done "adequately well", which is why it gains wider acceptance. This might be more true in social sciences than physical sciences. Several examples can be found in such fields as sociology or behavioral psychology, where things that are all too well know are put forward as new theories. Some examples would be (1) "reciprocative altruism" which says that most beings engage in altruistic behavior because the individual being believes that the altruistic act will be reciprocated (2) "anesthetic of familiarity" which says that as we live in this world, as we grow old, our senses become dulled by the monotony of what we see, which is the reason why most children are extremely curious whereas most adults are not so curious about the natural world that surrounds us -- or -- (3) the simplest of them all, the "law of causality" which says that every event has a cause that precedes it.

It takes a good amount of thinking to put the obvious in a coherent form. Most economic theories are of this nature. So Anoop, congratulations on your new theory ! :)

The coinage was more on the humor side but the reasoning was pure social logic. I had actually coined this in an article about the evolution of selflessness in society. I agree with you, the application of the theory lies more in the social side than in the economics side. People stare at big problems and give up without putting in any effort because on their own the problems look too big to be solved. But if we can get people to think about the cumulative contribution of individual efforts even the most complex of problems will get a different perspective.

"the individual contributions towards a very large and complex task keeps decreasing as more and more people contribute to the task, until each individual has to contribute no more than required of every other individual, had every individual contributed towards performing the task."
Wasn't that obvious? What part of your primary school mathematics did you not understand? If this weren't true, why would people form teams to accomplish tasks?

Limit n => N, x/n => x/N
I hope you don't consider the above as a 'discovery', do you?

When newton coined the law of gravity wasn't it already obvious that things thrown up always comes down? The trick is in coining the theory and creating the equations for it :-).

Isn't F=m x a simple? Isn't V = I x R simple? Are these beyond primary school mathematics?
It is not in the complexity of the equation that makes a theory great, rather it is in the simplicity of the equation. B-).

Now finally, the gravity pendulum was in use much before Newton coined the law of gravity. The existence of an application of a theorem does not prove the coinage of the theorem in the first place.

Now do I consider this a discovery? Of course yes, ask Google to confirm :-)

(my last comment got deleted somehow!)

Please do not compare your theory with Newton's or the Ohm's law. Your 'new' theory is actually the 'law of fractions'. Didn't you pay attention when your teacher taught you fractions?

"The law of diminishing ice-cream - when a fixed quantity of ice-cream (x) is shared equally by N individuals, the share of an individual (given by the simple expression x/N) diminishes as N increases". As an illustration, consider the plot of (x/N) vs N for different values of x.

And who said anything about a theory needing a complex equation to be great? Nothing in my post above seem to indicate that. So it must have come from your thinking!

And after seeing you quote google as proof of a 'disovery', I'm compelled to ask: are you really dumb or are you just acting dumb? (choose one). In case you are acting, you are doing a first rate job! :p
I had expected much better things from you than this. You let me down, :(

Please don't compare your 'theory' to the Ohm's law or Newton's. They gave simple, quantitative explanations to phenomenon that existed, but nobody know why or how or how much.
Your law is something like: "The law of diminishing ice-cream' - when a afixed quantity of ice cream is shared equally between N persons, the share of an individial diminishes as N increases" If you call that a discovery, you didn't pay much attention when your teacher taught you fractions! And to use an expression like 'Limit n => N, x/n => x/N' to 'explain' the above is what I'd call 'stupid' :-p Perhaps a plot of x/N vs N for different values of x might appeal to you! Whoa! Thats real science / economics / math!

After reading your argument about google as a proof of 'discovery', I'm compelled to ask - are you acting dumb or are you really dumb? (you can choose one). If you're acting, then you're doing a first class job!

I'd expected much better things than this from a guy like you! What to say, you let me down.. :-(

I have clearly stated the logic behind my claim but you are basing your argument on your opinion. Nobody wins an argument based on opinions. You have yours and I have mine. I respect your right to have your own opinion but I refrain from continuing a debate on whether your opinion is right or wrong. If in your opinion the theory does not sound great, fine, let it be.

Humor aside I believe that application of the above theory, be in its "Law of diminishing efforts" form or the "Law of fractions" form like you call it, can change the way people look at complex social problems where x and n are unknown. Coming back to my pet example about corruption. We don't know how much effort need to be put in to totally remove corruption from the face of the earth. In fact the problem is so complex that people normally stare at it and define it as unsolvable but we know that ultimately if everybody decides to not bribe or take bribes the problem is solved. So getting this idea into the minds of the people out there and making them slowly practice it is indeed a way towards solving this problem. Just to complete the logic, it might take a little more than that to actually eradicate corruption. There will have to be systemic changes too and for this people have to put in effort. If we look at the problem as too big to be solved and never get around to putting in any effort, it will never get solved. On the contrary if we decide to put in our share of efforts and try to inspire more people to join the cause, we will indeed be able to cure humanity of this plague.

"I have clearly stated the logic behind my claim but you are basing your argument on your opinion."
I'm not opposed to your idea (and I don't intend to comment on the novelty), I'm just refuting your 'claim' that it's a new law or theory in economics. It's plain fractions and you have not presented it in a new angle or presented a hitherto little-known property! If you had done something like that, then perhaps we can all marvel at it's novelty and call it a new theorem.
If you think we are 'agruing' over something, then it's just not my opinion that I'm banking on. I'm basing my points on facts, and that too well-known facts.

@ Syam,

If you were to look around in /. or any other of the big internet forums, you would find many Laws/adages created quite informally, but which have become very popular and accepted with time..

eg:Godwin's law, Formosa's Law etc..

and in any case, Anoop John has stated tht the 'LAw' was created partly in a humorous vein..
So if you don't have a sense of humour, please don't comment..

The law of causality states that every event has a cause that precedes it. Can you please tell me which part of the law did you did not know before you knew about the law?

The philosophy of causality was not formed yesterday. You have to keep the period and the philosophical/scientific/religious knowledge of that time in mind to appreciate it. There used to be philosophers who explained the moon/earth relationship as "it is the nature of the moon to go around the earth, as simple as that!".

There used to be a law in chemistry that said something like "water always has oxygen and hydrogen in the 'exact same ratio', no matter how it is formed". We call this 'common knowledge' now, don't we? But it was a scientific theorem in those times.
What you stated would've been a law, but not in these times. Now, it's just common knowledge!

Amazing man .. amazing .. you are great. You have somehow managed to keep arguing with utmost passion when no one is interested in arguing with you. It's quite a talent. Keep talking and you will soon have a reality show of your own that bored people will watch when they want to try and get some sleep.

> Amazing man .. amazing .. you are great.
Thanks..

> You have somehow managed to keep arguing with utmost passion when no one is
> interested in arguing with you.
What?? All my posts were in response to a post or question by Anoop.

In any case, I'm entitled to my opinions and free to express them. Thanks for expressing yours.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaa9iw85tW8 (starts getting good at 6:50)

"Oh yeah! Well Im entitled to my opinion, and my opinion is that YOU are not entitled to your opinion"

**Shoots the f**k and walks away**