AERONAUTICAL SYSTEMS DIV WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
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This study presents several methods of forecasting rates of technological advance. The methods include forecasting by extrapolation of existing rates by analogies to biological growth processes by precursive events by derivation from primary trends by interpretation of trend characteristics and by dynamic simulation of the process of technological improvement. The investigation included a search of the literature for references to principles of technological progress and for methods which have been used for predictive purposes. Each method of forecasting is first presented from the standpoint of the logic which supports its use for predictive purposes. This presentation includes a criticism of errors made in prior exposition or use of the method. Each method is next presented in terms of the technique used to forecast. The application of the method to typical forecasting problems is presented in general terms, followed by examples which demonstrate the use of the method in specific cases. Each of the methods offers the opportunity of making a forecast of progress which explicitly predicts quantitative improvements of technical performance to be achieved at definite future times. The use of multiple methods for prediction of a single quantity offers confirmation of results, or alternatively, establishes a range of possible rates of progress. The forecasting methods in this investigation favor the conclusion that pre diction of technological progress can be extended beyond the limits of purely intuitive processes. The application of the methods presented should substantially improve long range plans not previously supported by carefully established forecasts.
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