The Law of Fundamental Completeness
Genady L. Filkovsky,
Nomura Securities International Inc.,
New York, USA

TRIZ related texts are full of examples. Originally, they were used as a part of teaching methodology, i.e. to demonstrate the principles and to give students a material to practice the methods. Examples are good in this role. Mistakenly, they are lately used as a support or even a proof of TRIZ principles and methods. This is wrong!

No amount of examples prove anything. Any hypothesis, regardless of how meaningful or meaningless it is, can be applied to retrospective interpretation of examples. There are many such hypotheses in history of science, completely discarded in spite of vast amounts of "supporting" examples. Astrology has millions of examples. Numerology has millions of examples. Psychoanalysis, etc.

Why no new Laws of Technical Systems Evolution have been discovered after Altshuller's death? Because Altshuller had found all of them? There is no reason to think so. Because current TRIZ researches are not that smart? There is no reason to think so, either. The answer is simple: it is just too easy to come up with more of such laws, and since the only filtering criteria used to be Altshuller's opinion - but he doesn't return calls anymore - the only way to safely keep a straight face and to pretend a scientificality is, to freeze the Laws.

Here is a new ridiculous law of technical systems evolution, which is however not more ridiculous and not less supported by examples, than the other, canonized laws of the Altshullerian TRIZ. As required by TRIZology, it is based on patent data analysis. This new law claims that each system evolves into an alphabetically complete set of inventions.

Take for example a simple old technical system, toothbrush. Here is a set of inventions, with just one example for each letter, in alphabetical order:

Animal toothbrush (6,453,501)
Baseball toothbrush (D465,334)
Combination toothbrush holder and dispenser (6,497,236)
Dentifrice dispensing electrical toothbrush (6,434,773)
Electric toothbrush head (D465,926)
Fluid-dispensing and refilling toothbrush (6,402,410)
Gripping element toothbrush utensil (6,461,164)
Holder for a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, spray(D467,455)
Infant toothbrush (6,334,231)
Jet cleaner for electric toothbrush (D266,117)
Kit with toothbrush and toothpaste (5,701,921)
Lighted toothbrush (D464,489)
Motorized disposable toothbrush (6,230,717)
Non-contact electric toothbrush (6,489,874)
Orthodontic toothbrush (6,493,897)
Proton motive force toothbrush (6,496,998)
Quick-disconnect mechanism for toothbrush (6,237,194)
Replaceable head toothbrush (6,502,272)
Single use toothpaste dispensing toothbrush (6,524,023)
Twin-headed toothbrush (6,112,361)
Unitarily molded toothbrush (5,926,900)
Vertical leverage toothbrush handle (D461,641)
Walkie-talkie toothbrush handle (D459,895)
X ?
Y-shaped toothbrush (D386,617)
Z ?

X and Z are missing, but the toothbrush evolution is not over yet! Also, the more detailed analysis (for example, of actual claims rather then just of invention titles) might reveal what we've missed.

This law has even stronger support by examples than the canonized laws, which are so shaky sometimes that they need an argument like this from Fey and Rivin: "The described above steps of evolution of the hair comb/brush are not always aligned in a chronological order. This is typical for, practically, any technological system. Some pioneering patent can be granted a hundred years ahead of its time, and most of the patents/inventions/solutions appear rather chaotically. However, major developments fit into basic steps of the Lines of Evolution." (From their TRIZ-journal article, Guided Technology Evolution .)

In other words, according to this argument, the laws of evolution do not even need to follow the actual evolution. This gives a lot of freedom to the laws authors.

Unlike the Fey-Rivin examples, the Law of Fundamental Completeness described above does follow the actual evolution: as system evolves and amount of inventions grows, the alphabetical set of the inventions becomes more complete!

This law has another promising advantage: analysis of a statistical distribution of letters in inventions will probably show that as a system evolves and amount of inventions grows, this distribution becomes closer to the distribution of letters in the language. This is open for research yet, but might add a more detailed and even a mathematical form to the Law of Fundamental Completeness.

TRIZ might finally become an exact science!