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4 Types of Uncertainty

 , updated on April 24, 2017
Uncertainty is imperfect information. It is a basic and persistent aspect of decision making, strategy and planning that comes in several distinct varieties:


Information that is vague or open to interpretation.

Known Unknowns

Information that you know is missing. For example, a foreign tourist in Seoul who is lost but can't read a street sign posted in Korean.

Unknown Unknowns

Things that are beyond your information to the extent that you don't know they exist. For example, a new investor who doesn't know that short selling exists.

Future Events

Generally speaking, the future is uncertain. Future outcomes can be estimated with probabilities and predictions but typically remain unknown until they occur. Immediate events involving simple systems may be predicted very reliably. Complex systems such as an economy or events in the distance future involve greater uncertainty.
Overview: Uncertainty
Imperfect information
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about uncertainty.
Chaos Theory
Grey Area
Hawthorne Effect
Known Unknowns
Not Applicable
Uncertainty Principle
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