Saturday, January 4, 2014

How to Problem Solve - Funny Cats Edition


Problems solving is a skill, one which can be refine and improved in just about anyone...

For my example, I'll be using the simple situation of cleaning a litter box.


Step 1:  Analyze a problem statement, typically expressed as a word problem.

"How is a litter box cleaned?"


Step 2:  Express its essence, abstractly and with examples.

"Get everything I need, clean the poop out until it's gone, then add litter, and put everything away."


Step 3:  Formulate statements and comments in a precise language.


Statements
Comments
1
"Prepare for task"
get scooper tool, litter box, bag, litter. find litter box
2
“Completion detection loop logic”
if no poop detected, goto statement 5
3
“Remove unwanted objects”
scoop poop, place in bag,
4
“Scan for unwanted objects”
look for more poop, goto statement 2
5
“Add required material”
reinsert litter to replace the removed material
6
“Return to original state”
dispose trash, return litter. return to previous task


Step 4:  Evaluate and revise the activities in light of checks, tests and details.


Think of how your specific situation calls for changes in the overall algorithm.
Think of how you may need to break down certain statements into multiple specific statements, or add new ones entirely to satisfy the requirements.