Toward a Unified Theory of Problem Solving: Views from the Content Domains

By Mike U. Smith | Go to book overview

2
A VIEW FROM CHEMISTRY

George M. Bodner Purdue University


INTRODUCTION

For months, I have been agonizing over the question posed by the organizers of this symposium: "Is it possible to produce a unified theory of problem solving?" I have waffled back and forth between an optimistic "yes" and a pessimistic "no." While sitting in a hotel room, just before leaving for the tenth annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society, I came to the following conclusion: Yes, it is possible to construct a unified theory of problem solving. I have done so, and I expect that each of the other participants in this symposium will have done so as well. Unfortunately, I'm afraid our unified theories will differ significantly from one another. I am confident that we are beyond the stage described by Figure 1, but I fear that there are subtle differences between the way each of us defines important terms, which cause difficulties in reaching a truly unified theory of problem solving. Researchers in this area, as much as any I've encountered, seem to adhere to a philosophy summarized by Lewis Carroll ( 1896).

-21-

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Toward a Unified Theory of Problem Solving: Views from the Content Domains
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • 1 - A View from Biology 1
  • Acknowledgment 17
  • References 17
  • 2 - A View from Chemistry 21
  • References 32
  • 3 - A View from Medicine 35
  • References 43
  • 4 - A View from Programming 45
  • Acknowledgements 63
  • References 63
  • 5 - A View of Mathematical Problem Solving in School 69
  • Acknowledgements 95
  • References 95
  • 6 - A View from Physics 99
  • References 113
  • 7 - A View from Trouble-Shooting 115
  • References 148
  • Author Index 155
  • Subject Index 161
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