Program Management

Problem Solving

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Problem Solving CycleProblem solving is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills. Problem solving occurs when an organism or an artificial intelligence system needs to move from a given state to a desired goal state. [1]

A number of problem solving techniques are listed below: [1]

  • Abstraction: solving the problem in a model of the system before applying it to the real system
  • Analogy: using a solution that solved an analogous problem
  • Brainstorming: (especially among groups of people) suggesting a large number of solutions or ideas and combining and developing them until an optimum is found
  • Divide and conquer: breaking down a large, complex problem into smaller, solvable problems
  • Hypothesis testing: assuming a possible explanation to the problem and trying to prove (or, in some contexts, disprove) the assumption
  • Lateral thinking: approaching solutions indirectly and creatively
  • Means-ends analysis: choosing an action at each step to move closer to the goal
  • Method of focal objects: synthesizing seemingly non-matching characteristics of different objects into something new
  • Morphological analysis: assessing the output and interactions of an entire system
  • Reduction: transforming the problem into another problem for which solutions exist
  • Research: employing existing ideas or adapting existing solutions to similar problems
  • Root cause analysis: eliminating the cause of the problem
  • Trial-and-error: testing possible solutions until the right one is found

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