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.

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.

He did calculus while driving in his car, while sitting in the living room, and while lying in bed at night.” Indeed, the above is a picture of Feynman’s blackboard at the time of his death.

It says on it, “Know how to solve every problem that has been solved.” I like this sentiment, this idea of man as problem solver.Social interaction, for instance, can be thought of as a market, or as the behavior of electrons that think.We can think of the actions of people in terms of evolutionary drives, as those of a rational agent, and so on.The number of possible moves in a chess match — itself a simplification when compared to, you know, — is \( 10^ \), while the number of atoms in the observable universe is a mere \( 10^ \).It’s a near certainty, then, that the human mind doesn’t consider an entire graph when solving a problem, but somehow approximates a graph search.George Pólya in his writes (paraphrased), “You know something like this. ” The history of science, too, is filled with instances of reasoning by analogy. This is not really what an atom looks like, though, but it has stuck with us by way of Rutherford.Indeed, we can often gain cheap insights into something by borrowing the machinery from another discipline and thinking about it in those terms.If you put people in a room with the tacks in the box, they’re less likely to solve it than if the tacks and box are separate.The way we frame problems makes them more or less difficult. This suggests that we can increase our general problem solving ability by actively thinking of new ways to represent and think about a problem — different points of view. Translating a problem into another medium is a cheap way of producing insight.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.


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