Stop Calling It “The Law of Large Numbers”!

A public service announcement

Anthony Bardaro
May 3, 2018 · 2 min read
It’s not “The Wheat and Chessboard Problem” either (but I like the imagery!)

Just a quick PSA here…

When you refer to “The Law of Large Numbers”, what you really mean is “The Logistic Principle”:

“[The Law of Large Numbers] has nothing whatever to do with growth. What it actually says is that as a large number of samples of a random variable are taken from a population, the mean of the samples approaches the expected value of the population. In other (and simplified) terms, the larger your sample the better your estimate of the actual value… the basis of all sampling, polling, and inferential statistics…

“So what do we call the principle that the growth rate of things tends to slow as they get larger? The idea is kind of obvious, which may be why it doesn’t have a name [so] I propose we call it the logistic principle.”

Steve Wildstrom (via Techpinions, highlights courtesy of Annotote)

Depending on the context, you could also insert “Diminishing Returns to Scale” or “Sustainable Growth Rate”.


Are you frustrated with the way you experience news and research? Are you spending too much time doing everything but reading? We’re inviting people to help test what we’re working on at Annotote. If you’re interested, sign up here:

Anthony Bardaro

Written by

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away...” 👉 http://annotote.launchrock.com

More From Medium

More from Anthony Bardaro

Also tagged Data Science

Also tagged Data Science

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade