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Moore’s Law Came From Wright’s Law

Moore’s Law Came From Wright’s Law

Most of use are familiar with Moore’s Law that says the number of transistors on an integrated circuit chip will double every two years. There is also a familiar corollary that says the performance of chips will double every eighteen months. The original law came from an observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore of Intel. There is another, lesser known, but quite interesting precedent to this law.

Wright’s Law was described by Theodore Wright in a 1936 paper as the principle that the cost of a unit of manufacturing will decrease proportionally as a function of cumulative production. In other words, we learn from experience. Moore’s Law is an extension of Wright’s Law.

Do your projects follow Wright’s Law? – [controleng.com]

Wright’s Law, also called the Rule of Experience, was discovered by Theodore P. Wright and described in the paper, “Factors affecting the cost of airplanes” in the 1936 Journal of Aeronautical Sciences[1]. The simple form of the law is “we learn by doing” and the cost of each unit produced decreases as a function of the cumulative number of units produced. Moore’s Law for the semiconductor industry is really just a special case of Wright’s Law. The semiconductor industry’s phenomenal efficiency improvements are therefore due, in part, to the explosive growth in the use of semiconductor technologies in all areas of modern life.

Wright’s Law Edges Out Moore’s Law in Predicting Technology Development – [spectrum.ieee.org]

A new Santa Fe Institute (SFI) working paper (Statistical Basis for Predicting Technological Progress, by Bela Nagy, J. Doyne Farmer, Quan M. Bui, and Jessika E. Trancik) compares the performance of six technology-forecasting models with constant-dollar historical cost data for 62 different technologies—what the authors call the largest database of such information ever compiled. The dataset includes stats on hardware like transistors and DRAMs, of course, but extends to products in energy, chemicals, and a catch-all “other” category (beer, electric ranges) during the periods when they were undergoing technological evolution. The datasets cover spans of from 10 to 39 years; the earliest dates to 1930, the most recent to 2009.

It turns out that high technology has more in common with low-tech than we thought. The same rules seem to describe price evolution in all 62 areas.

Moore’s Law
An Economic Singularity

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