Category Archives: Metaphor


From Wikipedia:

Idempotence (/ˌaɪdɨmˈpoʊtəns/ eye-dəm-poh-təns) is the property of certain operations in mathematics and computer science, that can be applied multiple times without changing the result beyond the initial application.

About a month ago, I came up with a great example of idempotence which I want to share if anybody has confusion about what it means exactly, or has to explain it to someone outside of the realm of mathematics or computer science, like customer stakeholders.

It came to me when I was doing dishes one night. I had left a baby food jar on the counter waiting for my wife to get back down to the kitchen area since I didn’t know if it had been cleaned over at the in-laws or not. When she got back to the kitchen, after I asked if it had been washed, she gave me the perfect example of idempotence:

If you aren’t sure if it has been washed or not, just wash it; it won’t hurt anything if you wash it again.

–My wife

So when you are trying to explain idempotence to someone, feel free to use this example found in every day life.

I hope you find this useful.