Science Problem Solving

(This is sometimes called overcoming ) With that realization in hand, just tie the pliers to one rope and swing it.

If you stand by the other rope, the pliers-rope should eventually swing back to you, and then you can tie them together.

After all, life is in some sense a series of problems, of obstacles to be overcome. Or you could break into a sorority house and attack her there, along with six of her closest friends.

If we can upgrade from a hammer to dynamite to blast through those, well, what are we waiting for? Problem solving can be understood as a search problem. These are possible paths to the final state, which in this macabre example is murder.

Then you might speak to the head detective about the most promising leads. In this way, you’d keep choosing moves until reaching your goal. (Not to be confused with the graph of a function, which you learned about in algebra.

This sort of graph — pictured below — is a set of objects with links between them.) The nodes of the graph are states of the world, while the links between the nodes are possible actions.

The key insight in this problem is that the box that the tacks are contained in is not just for holding tacks, but can be used as a mount, too — again, a change in the representation.

In fact, the rate at which people solve this problem depends on how it’s presented.

This perhaps explains some of the ability of some scientists to contribute to different disciplines with original insights.

I’m reminded of Feynman’s work on the connection machine, where he analyzes the computer’s behavior with a set of partial differential equations — something natural for a physicist, but strange for a computer science who thinks in discrete rather than continuous terms.


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