In Isaac Asimov's novel The Naked Sun and Rob Chilson's book Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Refuge, references to the "Teramin Relationship" are made.

It's stated as a sociological theorem that relates the differential between the amount of privileges a society is given with the amount of inconvenience they're willing to suffer before the society becomes unstable. In both cases a character starts reciting the formula "dee eye sub jay taken to the" but is then cut off.

Is this an actual theorem in sociology (perhaps known by a different name), or is this something made up by Asimov?

2 Answers 2


Based on Google Search, clearly it is NOT a real life term.

The idea itself seems to be so completely trivial (basically, a partial application of a zero sum concept) as to not be a named law in sociology, or in real science.


The "Teramin Relationship" near as I can tell does not exist by that name, however it does exist even if not quantified.

To see examples of it you only have to look at such things as:

  • Minimum wage (How much a given society is prepared to endure for how little a reward)

differential between the amount of privileges (in the form of currency) a society is given with the amount of inconvenience they're willing to suffer (Length, difficulty, mentality and general undesirability) before the society becomes unstable.(such jobs are not readily filled or are filled by a substandard workforce)

  • How few Queues are open at the local supermarket (how long you will wait, with all that entails vs your chances of becoming annoyed)

In this case the privilege is expedience of service and the inconvenience is obviously time spent waiting, the unstable society is, in this case Angry customers and/or a lack of customers.

All Society and human interaction is built around exchange, it then follows that in order to maximize that exchange "privileges" (what is gained) must be made as low as possible for the other while getting them to endure as much "inconvenience" (what is expended.)

Hence why "getting the better of someone" is 'good' if you do it 'bad' if it happens to you.

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