Altshuller gave two definitions of ideal machine:
As an example of the ideal machine he mentioned a truck with zero weight and just a cargo compartment, no cabin, etc. But such an example does not match the definition. Neither weight, nor area, nor volume of such an ideal truck coincides with weight, or area, or volume of cargo. The weight of the truck is zero whereas the weight of cargo is not. The area and volume of the cargo compartment could be made equal to the area and volume of the cargo only if it is a cube van. But if it is a flat bed then area and volume of the compatment is less than the area and volume of the cargo.
Thus the first definition is inconsistent. The consistent definition would be this:
Altshuller also claimed that all machines evolve towards the ideal machine, but did not specify whether they EVENTUALLY evolve into the ideal machine or any step in a machine's evolution brings it closer to the ideal one. Meanwhile there is a big difference between the two concepts of evolution.
If any machine just eventually evolves into the ideal machine then the only important transformation is its final leap to the ideal state. All previous transformations are unimportant from this prospective as they do not necessarily bring the machine closer to the ideal one. But since any transformation of a machine is its improvement in a sense, it means that improvements do not necessarily make machines more ideal. In this case trying and defining the degree of deviation of a real machine from the ideal one does not make any sense. It may show no direction of the required improvement of the machine at the moment.
By the way, the purpose of ARIZ is also not to somewhat increase the ideality of a system but to convert it into the ideal one in one quantum leap. To this end the Ideal Final Result (IFR) is formulated and then is tried to be achieved. Failure to achive IFR is considered to be a failure to solve a problem by ARIZ. No wonder that the measures of the degree of ideality of a machine found no place in ARIZ.
On the other hand Altshuller once wrote that the fact that the maximum size of trucks grew over time, does not contradict the tendency to ideality. The ratio of the load to the truck's size has been lowered. Thus in this instance he assumed that machines not only eventually become ideal but that every step in their evolution makes them more ideal. Still in other instances he used to say the opposite. Here is an excerpt from the recording of his argument with some of his disciples that were pushing him to define the degree of ideality :
Altshuller: The tendency to ideality is simply reduction of weight, size.
Zlotin: One cannot say so. Otherwise a toy truck is more ideal than a truck that carry 300 tonn load.
Altshuller: As a toy it is more ideal.
Zlotin: The main function is transport of freight.
Litvin: If the main function is transport of freight then truck carrying 300 tonn load is more ideal.
Zlotin: It is because the ratio of the weight of freight to the weight of the truck is higher. You yourself once pointed it out.
Altshuller: No, by increasing ideality I mean what I wrote, decreasing the weight of a machine, its size, and expenses.
Zlotin: Specific gravity and specific size.
Altshuller: This is your definition. You build your system of definitions. You substitute my definitions with yours and accuse me of illogicality. But the conflict is between my definitions and yours. Let's adopt one system of definitions.
Bogach: I always assumed that the law of ideality speaks about the specific characteristics.
Altshuller: But I did not assume so. I assumed that any worthy machine should become ideal. I was appalled to see that this does not always happen. ... When a simple mechanical device is replaced by electro-mechanical one it is a step back from ideality. Will you be arguing that ?"
It is easily seen that in this particular instance Altshuller meant that machines eventually become ideal and that their intermediate improvements may make them less ideal. Thus, his views were quite dual, although the evidence suggests that he adopted the latter point of view more often than the former.
And if improvements do not necessarily make machine more ideal (until it finally leaps to its ideal state), then there is no need in formulas of ideality. Indeed, what is the purpose of such formulas ? It is to measure how far a real machine is from the ideal one and direct it towards the ideal one. But as Altshuller pointed out in the above discussion, it may turn out to be a wrong direction of improvement. Thus, formulas of ideality are useless at best and misleading at worst.
Instead of inventing the measures of the degree of ideality it is better to invent other useful measures of the quality of machines. For one that any improvement increases some quality of a machine although not necessarily the degree of ideality. In this respect degree of ideality is no different from other qualities which may or may not be improved. It is just one of the possible qualities although so far no one was able to propose its consistent measure. Thus we need to identify all qualities that might be improved. One such new quality measure for transportation systems was proposed in  and more are on the way.
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