Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fence post problem

What do you know about having a process for problem solving? Do you follow a problem solving process when you solve a problem? What would /are the benefits of following a process when problem solving?

This is a very general question. Interpersonal problems tend (for me at least), to not lend themselves to processes very well.
But in the physical and computing world, I absolutely use a problem solving process. One of my hobbies is 3D printing, which is about 90% solving problems, and 10% buying new stuff. (plus .one percent spent saying "Yes, I saw the article about the 3d printed house").

It is important to isolate the subsystem that is causing the problem through tests. For instance, is it the software, or the machine? If the software, then start checking: is the heat right, the speed, etc. If you aren't sure, then test one variable at a time. Some problems are two-variable problems, and those are tough!

Benefits of a process: Less flailing around when things go sideways. A sense of familiarity and being in control during the problem. Because the process usually results in improvement... eventually.

Reflection: Why are problems like these important to learn to solve? How could this type of solution be of benefit to a carpenter, a chef, a teacher?

This type of computational thinking is important because they unlock the ability to generalize and automate a solution to fit all sorts of similar problems. A carpenter can use it to calculate square footage or volume of concrete, a chef might use it to multiply or divide a recipe or calculate cooking times at different heats, a teacher could use it to teach computer science :).

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