- #1
ergospherical
- 994
- 1,280
How can one maximise one's confidence in the results of a theoretical calculation? After long and fiddly calculations I often encounter an uneasy feeling where I find it difficult to confirm whether the fruits of all that labour are actually correct. The first ports of call are always:
- dimensional consistency;
- physical reasonableness; is the behaviour unusual? are there different regimes? extreme cases?
- does the result depend on the variables I expected it to? symmetry considerations? scale invariance?
- consistency with similar problems? does the solution reduce to those of special cases?
- does the computer agree with your maths? (did you miss a minus sign on line 37...?)
Some less conclusive tests are:
- "niceness"; a short, tidy answer inspires confidence, but a long, messy answer is not necessarily incorrect.
- peer-review; ask your friend - did (s)he get the same thing?
I'm especially interested to hear about how a theoretical physicist would go about verifying his/her results before publication to a journal/competition etc.
- dimensional consistency;
- physical reasonableness; is the behaviour unusual? are there different regimes? extreme cases?
- does the result depend on the variables I expected it to? symmetry considerations? scale invariance?
- consistency with similar problems? does the solution reduce to those of special cases?
- does the computer agree with your maths? (did you miss a minus sign on line 37...?)
Some less conclusive tests are:
- "niceness"; a short, tidy answer inspires confidence, but a long, messy answer is not necessarily incorrect.
- peer-review; ask your friend - did (s)he get the same thing?
I'm especially interested to hear about how a theoretical physicist would go about verifying his/her results before publication to a journal/competition etc.