Single-word description

I am interested in finding a single noun that means "the property of having limited or no assumptions". I could also use a noun meaning "the property of having some level of assumption" or "the property of having some level of pre-imposed knowledge".

The sentence I am looking to complete:

The design of the system must balance three forces -- simplicity, robustness, and [assumptivity; assumptiveness].

simplicity -- the level of ease or amount of work to describe or understand

robustness -- the ability to perform well under a variety of cases

What sort of assumptions or pre-imposed knowledge?

This is part of a technical paper, which is describing a data-processing workflow. It is advantageous to make the workflow simple so that it can be understood, tested, and fixed. It is advantageous to make the workflow robust, because the input data might be heterogeneous and the processing should work (ideally) for whatever input data is thrown in. It is advantageous to make the workflow have few assumptions, so the data can "speak for itself" rather than speak for its ability to fit within some model imposed by the workflow.

For instance, (not the real problem) I have a shape template (square) I am trying to find in a field of other shape targets (triangles, circles, squares, pentagons, rounded squares, squiggles). I want to treat each of the targets as equally likely from the onset, not bias the processing to look for targets with 4 vertices, because that is what the square has. The rounded square might be about the same size as the template square, so it is a good match. The target square might be huge, so it is a bad match.

Words I have considered:

  • Assumptivity
  • Assumptiveness
  • Imposivity
  • Impositionness

These don't feel well-formed.

Suggestions from the comments

  • Parsimony -- Should work, seems like a very good candidate
  • Naivety -- Could work, may have too much of a relation to 'novice' or 'ignorant' for what I need.
  • Presumption -- Not really what I was looking for. Feels like a concrete event, whereas I am looking for something indicating a level, magnitude, or quality.
  • 2
    What you're looking for is the principle of parsimony, most famously expressed in "Occam's Razor".
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 25, 2016 at 16:57
  • 1
    @DanBron My reading of the question would not suggest parsimony as an answer. But I am still in some doubt as to what it means. Surely "the property of having limited assumptions", would mean "little prior knowledge required", wouldn't it? But in the following sentence the OP appears to state the contrary.
    – WS2
    Oct 25, 2016 at 17:03
  • How about naivety?
    – DyingIsFun
    Oct 25, 2016 at 17:07
  • @WS2 The sentences following the example I posted above would highlight how the design cannot afford to have the optimum values of each, rather they must be balanced. Hence, I wrote that either "the property of having limited assumptions" or "the property of having some level of assumptions" would be acceptable. It would be possible to substitute "complexity" for "simplicity" because these principles will be elaborated on further. Oct 25, 2016 at 17:13
  • 1
    I think it's fair to assume that if OP's context involves design of the system we should look to scientific terminology. I've watched quite a few "pop science lectures" recently in the general area of competing "systems, models, theories", and more than once I've heard some particular theory being at least partially supported on the grounds of it being parsimonious (doesn't depend on many background assumptions). It stands out to me because I always kinda wish they'd ditch that second /i/ to amplify the oblique reference to the principle of parsimony (not "tight-fistedness"). Oct 25, 2016 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


Explicitness -

Fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied; unequivocal.

In other words, "having limited or no assumptions."


As somebody in the software industry we are often encouraged to write self-documenting code. In this form, comments and external documentation, though important, are not necessary to understand the process. The code itself follows naming conventions and well defined structures, which lend themselves to self-documentation.


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