The Slop Factor with a mention of Edmund Burke-from 2014

precision is a relative term

In scientific measurement absolute precision is only possible to the degree of error which the measuring process is capable of.

When taught the slide rule (almost a lost art now) I was shown the a precision of two or three places was only possible due to many accuracy factors.

Measurements made with digital instruments have the last place in any analog value rounded off by an appropriate circuit.

29.5 degrees may actually be 29.57 or 29.53 rounded off due to design and display limits. This factor could be called 'slop' in fact is in mechanical engineering.

It has its parallels in industrial and corporate management decisions.

In my experience a repair technician is ordinarily superfluous to the daily operation of a system. However the slop factor involves being ready for imprecise situations when failure does occur.

Rochester Telephone got caught short for repair crews during the 1990's Ice Storm.

My employer at the time New York Telephone had allowed for a larger slop factor in their projections.

They had adequate personnel to deal with storm damage and were able to then help the short sighted Rochester Tel People.

In my opinion the 'bean counters' with their narrow perspectives who measure a certain number of factors often miss critical ones resulting in poor industrial design and management when a wider perspective is required in evaluating a process if reliability is expected.

So within all precision slop remains ,rather than one hundred percent absolutes.

Note well the next statement I have separated for emphasis. I made this before becoming aware that Edmund Burke made the same specific assertion._________________________________________________ I THINK 'SLOP OR IMPRECISION AND THE LACK OF ABSOLUTES SUSTAINS LIFE BY ENABLING EVOLUTION TO COMPENSATE FOR CONTEMPORARY FACTORS THAT ARISE. ___________________________________________________________ The philosophy of absolutes leaves no opportunity for evolution. What seems or even is good at any one moment might not continue to be down the road a bit.

I AM unaware if it was only a passing thought or part of Burke's core philosophy. I took notice of the quote but find it to be unavailable for the moment. Further research on him might engender a dedicated column. The reaction of Burke's fans will be quite interesting.

© 2004 albert vallone - 1/17/17

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