Generate alternate options
One way to identify potential solutions is to represent the problem either internally or externally. By doing this, you will select information that is relevant - including the goal, the initial state, the operators (actions) and restrictions. Operators are actions that change the initial state of the problem into another. Then you may categorize it as a type of problem, develop similar situations, identify the criteria for evaluating the solution and adjust and combine ideas. Some of the main tools used are:
- Systematic trial and error
- Proximity searching
- Means, end
- Fractionalisation method
- Knowledge based methods
- Trial and error works for simple problems when one path seems more likely to lead to the goal than any other path. Trial and error can be blind or systematic. In a systematic trial and error, paths that fail are automatically eliminated.
- In a proximity search, you look just one step ahead of what will take the person closer to the goal. For example, if you are in a strange city and want to find the downtown area, you might want to proceed on the streets that appear busiest.
- In the means, end methodology, you include the appropriate operator or action that will change the initial state to one that gets you closer to your goal.
- For even larger problems, you can use the fractionalisation method, which breaks the problem down into parts that are more manageable.
- Knowledge based methods include past experiences with the problem type and knowledge of how the "world" works.
For some problems more than one strategy may be appropriate but may also lead to different results.
SMILE - Problem solving by CR Education modified by Marion Kelt, Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.