The logicomathematical vacuum cleaner

In his seminal paper, Hutchinson (1957) compared maths to a vacuum cleaner:

It is not necessary in any empirical science to keep an elaborate logicomathematical system always apparent, any more than it is necessary to keep a vacuum cleaner conspicuously in the middle of a room at all times. When a lot of irrelevant litter has accumulated the machine must be brought out, used, and then put away.

I guess it is another way of saying that, when ecological terms are not well-defined with maths, we generate a lot of clutter and redundancy…


Hutchinson, G. E. (1957). Concluding Remarks. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, 22, 415–427.