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 a 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 the 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


AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 7/16/2017

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