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Entropy 2018, 20(4), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/e20040285

Maximum Entropy and Theory Construction: A Reply to Favretti

Energy and Resources Group, and Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Received: 26 December 2017 / Revised: 5 March 2018 / Accepted: 5 March 2018 / Published: 14 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entropy and Its Applications across Disciplines)
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Abstract

In the maximum entropy theory of ecology (METE), the form of a function describing the distribution of abundances over species and metabolic rates over individuals in an ecosystem is inferred using the maximum entropy inference procedure. Favretti shows that an alternative maximum entropy model exists that assumes the same prior knowledge and makes predictions that differ from METE’s. He shows that both cannot be correct and asserts that his is the correct one because it can be derived from a classic microstate-counting calculation. I clarify here exactly what the core entities and definitions are for METE, and discuss the relevance of two critical issues raised by Favretti: the existence of a counting procedure for microstates and the choices of definition of the core elements of a theory. I emphasize that a theorist controls how the core entities of his or her theory are defined, and that nature is the final arbiter of the validity of a theory. View Full-Text
Keywords: maximum entropy; ecology; macroecology; abundance; metabolism; ecological theory maximum entropy; ecology; macroecology; abundance; metabolism; ecological theory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Harte, J. Maximum Entropy and Theory Construction: A Reply to Favretti. Entropy 2018, 20, 285.

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