Spherical cow

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An illustration of a spherical cow.

A spherical cow is a metaphor that is used when a complex scientific model is made more simple than it really should be.[1]

The words "spherical cow" came from a joke where a dairy farmer talks to a theoretical physicist about how to get more prices for his milk. The physicist later talks about an answer to the problem at a seminar. The physicist says "First, we assume a spherical cow..."[2] Sometimes, a "spherical horse" is used instead of a cow. For example, there is a joke about a physicist who says that he can find out who will win a race if it had a "spherical horse moving through a vacuum".[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Shelton, Robin; Cliffe, J. Allie. "Spherical Cows". Archived from the original on October 9, 1999.
  2. Kirkman, T. W. (1996). "Spherical Cow: A Simple Model". Statistics to Use. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  3. Hefley, Bill; Hefley, William E.; Murphy, Wendy (February 1, 2008). Service science, management and engineering: education for the 21st century. Springer. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-387-76577-8. Retrieved December 8, 2020.