When it’s better to subtract than add

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In summary, the article discusses the concept of problem solving by finding a solution where a few parts are left out, rather than trying to keep all parts added. This idea is exemplified by the advice that a designer knows they have achieved perfection when there is nothing left to take away. This approach is also seen in the work of master chart maker Edward Tufte, who used minimalistic designs to convey complex information, such as in the famous Napoleonic war chart by CJ Minard which utilized six variables to show the events of the campaign in a clear and concise manner.
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A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
 
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There was a master chart maker who followed that advice:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Tufte

He cited the Napoleanic war chart by CJ Minard where six variables were laid out in such a clear and concise matter showing what happened to Napolean's army during the campaign.

minard_lg.gif

It shows the number of Napoleon's troops; distance; temperature; latitude and longitude; direction of travel; and location relative to specific dates.
 
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Related to When it’s better to subtract than add

1. When is it better to subtract than add in a scientific experiment?

Subtraction is usually preferred in a scientific experiment when the goal is to find the difference between two values or to remove a constant value from a set of data. This can help to isolate the effect of a single variable and make the results more accurate.

2. Can subtraction be used instead of addition in all types of scientific calculations?

No, subtraction should only be used when it is appropriate for the specific experiment or calculation. In some cases, addition may be necessary to accurately represent the data or to account for other variables. It is important to carefully consider the nature of the experiment and the data before deciding whether to use subtraction or addition.

3. What are some advantages of using subtraction in a scientific experiment?

Subtraction can help to simplify complex data and make it easier to interpret. It can also remove any constant values that may interfere with the results. In addition, subtraction can help to highlight the differences between different sets of data, making it easier to draw meaningful conclusions.

4. Are there any disadvantages to using subtraction in a scientific experiment?

One potential disadvantage of using subtraction is that it may introduce errors or inaccuracies if not used correctly. It is important to carefully select which values to subtract and to ensure that the resulting data is still representative of the experiment. In addition, subtraction may not always be the most appropriate method for analyzing data and other techniques should be considered as well.

5. How can I determine whether to use subtraction or addition in a scientific experiment?

The decision to use subtraction or addition in a scientific experiment should be based on the specific goals and nature of the experiment. Consider the type of data being collected and whether the goal is to find the difference between values or to combine different sets of data. It may also be helpful to consult with other scientists or experts in the field for their insights and recommendations.

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