# DesignWIKI

Fil Salustri's Design Site

# COLLECTIONS

2015.01.09 11:13
research:problem_solving

# Problem Solving

Notes on the science of problem solving.

## General Information

Problem solving occurs when an agent does not know how to proceed from a given state to a desired goal state.

It is part of the “larger problem process” that also includes problem finding and problem shaping.

From wikipedia: Based on work by Dietrich Dörner Joachim Funke, difficult problems have typical characteristics:

• Opacity (lack of clarity of the situation)
• commencement opacity
• continuation opacity
• Polytely (multiple goals)
• inexpressiveness
• opposition
• transience
• Complexity (large numbers of items, interrelations, and decisions)
• enumerability
• connectivity (hierarchy relation, communication relation, allocation relation)
• heterogeneity
• Dynamics (time considerations)
• temporal constraints
• temporal sensitivity
• phase effects
• dynamic unpredictability

The resolution of difficult problems requires a direct attack on each of these characteristics that are encountered.

## Time and dynamics

A number of these characteristics are temporal (e.g. “dynamic unpredictability”). But these temporal features are rarely considered - unless the problem is intrinsically temporal - and almost never taught. This leads to people thinking that a problem is static and, once solved, will not recur.

Problem-solving often requires “freezing” the problem, or has an implicit assumption that the problem is static.

## Best solutions

One often reads that design involves choosing/identifying the “best” design. But “best” is a relative term, which should be defined with respect to:

• the candidate designs known to the agents,
• the accuracy and completeness of the requirements with respect to the real world situation at the time the requirements were set, and
• the accuracy of the requirements with respect to the real world situation in the future (e.g. when the design is implemented).

Problem-solving often ignores these post-solution effects.

## Feedback

Once the “best” design is implemented, it will influence the real-world situation (context) in which it exists.

• The context will change.
• Is the design still the best in the new context?

Problem-solving often ignores these post-solution effects.

Note: requirements are models of real-world situations, and as such are always imperfect.

## Other

Related Terms

• Problem: An obstacle that prevents achieving a desired state from the current state.
• Problem finding: the specific task of discovering a problem. Typically, this involves finding the real problem; related to diagnosis in that symptoms are (usually) not the real problem in a disease.
• Problem shaping: Changing/expanding a problem statement to facilitate its solution.

To Do TBD

## References

<refnotes> notes-separator: none </refnotes>

research/problem_solving.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)