Stochastic Testing: From Possible to Probable to Certain

“Stochastic” (sto – kas – tik) is not a word one hears every day yet it relates directly to one of the most important features of Life and behavior. Stochastic points to the fact that all natural events have a high degree of unpredictability. The reason for the unpredictability is that there are so many unknown variables that can affect any single event, it is impossible to know in advance exactly what the outcome will be. Uncertainty is a cardinal fact of Life.

In contrast to “stochastic” is “deterministic”. If one has all the factors securely in place, one can be assured of a good prediction of an event. Knowing all the factors (and having them not change!) gives one the basis of a “deterministic” test. Here the result is expected to be “certain”. However, if there are unknown variables at play, especially a lot of them, then the only choice is a “stochastic” test. In a “stochastic” test all the hope is centered on exposed “probabilities”. Other steps are required to further refine the “probabilities” into “certainty”.

Various stochastic testing models are used widely throughout physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, engineering, sociology, economics, cryptography, traffic control, finances and the insurance industry. There is not one specific stochastic technique as the principle can be interpreted into a variety of formulas and applications.

The biggest common mistake is to directly equate a “stochastic” test with a “random result”. Stochastic involves the dynamics of random behaviors but, and very importantly, proceeds many steps beyond as it applies algorithmic formulas that initiate broad and deep statistical analyses of great quantities of related information. In the case of “stochastic”, the principle of “random” takes on a critical new layer of meaning and importance. Here “random” does NOT mean “pick just any answer”! The randomness or unpredictability of the numerous features of the event sets an influence upon a string of processes that result in the harvesting of significant Probabilities that were previously buried and hidden in the sometimes vast ocean of Possibilities.

The second big common mistake is to directly equate “probable” with “certain”. Here is a simple example: A bookie studies all the horses in a race, the jockeys, the track, the weather, and the trainers. He then sits back and does a “mental stochastic test”. Based on all the obvious variables (and a bunch of other unaccounted variables like the loud airplane that flies over head just at the moment of the start of the race), he comes up with “the odds”. The “odds” are a set of statistical Probabilities for the outcome of the race. And, by the way, regardless of who you talk to, there is no “sure thing”! The “odds” or Significant Probabilities allows all participants to focus their problem solving abilities (which include further investigation) on a limited set of probable outcomes. This heightened awareness of Probable outcomes has a bold influence on the recognition of actual outcomes.

The I-Field Assessment process utilized in Possibility Wave (PW) apps is a form of stochastic testing. The I-Field Assessment is a critical component of the foundational principle of “Informed Interactivity” that is the signature of PW apps.

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