THINKING PROCESSES Problem Solving, Critical thinking and Creativity

This lecture answers questions such as:
Is thinking skill inborn or can I develop it ? In how many different ways can I think ? How can I develop my thinking and generate ideas ?

Is thinking skill inborn or can I develop it ?

GIFT OR SKILL ?
• “That “creativity” is beyond analysis is a romantic illusion we must now outgrow” – Peter Medawar. • Creativity is a skill which can be developed by practice. Conscious application is needed, not the vagaries of “inspiration”, in order to achieve a creative output. • Creativity is a matter of organizing one’s basic skills, not regretting that one was not born with a “quick” or “logical” mind.

Motivation is recognized as a crucial factor in the development of talent and the application of creativity. The importance of Intrinsic Motivation in driving an individual to practice and work hard to master a specific domain, is undisputed. Cox (1926), in his study of 301 geniuses, wrote: 'high but not the highest intelligence, combined with the greatest degrees of persistence, will achieve greater eminence than the highest degree of intelligence with somewhat less persistence'.

In how many different ways can I think ?

Education is not about learning diverse subjects but about learning diverse ways to the same subject - Aurobindo

LEVELS OF THINKING
Low

Knowing Comprehension Application or Problem solving Evaluation or Critical thinking
High

Creativity

Let us begin with an exercise ……….

Make 5 squares of equal size out of a single large square. You are allowed to cut and paste.

LEVELS OF THINKING
Low

Knowing Comprehension Application or Problem solving Evaluation or Critical thinking
High

Creativity

STYLES OF THINKING
• Reproductive: based on similar problems encountered in the past, or taught to solve Productive: generates as many alternative approaches as possible • Fluent: generates large quantity of ideas Flexible: goes beyond the ordinary and conventional nature of things.

STRATEGIES OF PROBLEM SOLVING

Representation Logical thinking Division into sub-problems Stretch to the extreme Verbalization

REPRESENTATION

Well begun is half-done
Because of the uncertainties involved in illdefined problems, the problem solver must often devote a great deal of time to both the step of forming an initial representation of the problem and the step of reformulating it.

A picture is worth a thousand words

TECHNIQUES OF REPRESENTATION
• Symbolic representation • Reformulation • Table: list, matrix • Graph • Venn diagram • Drawing diagram to scale

Problem: Represent the following symbolically
The first term is the product of the given sine and radius of the desired arc divided by the cosine of the arc. The succeeding terms are obtained by a process of iteration when the first term is repeatedly multiplied by the square of the sine and divided by the square of the cosine. All the terms are then divided by the odd numbers 1, 3, 5, .... The arc is obtained by adding and subtracting respectively the terms of odd rank and those of even rank. It is laid down that the sine of the arc or that of its complement whichever is the smaller should be taken here as the given sine. Otherwise the terms obtained by this above iteration will not tend to the vanishing magnitude.

Problem:
How can you become more productive ?

Solution by reformulation: How can you make your job easier ?

Powerful Reformulation or Transformation Techniques

• Binary number system • Logarithm

Problem:

The Tirupati Temple Problem

Exactly at sunrise one morning, you set out to climb the Thirupati temple. The path wound round the mountain. You climbed the path at varying rates of speed. You stopped many times along the way to rest and to eat the fruit you carried with you. You reached the temple just before sunset.

Continued …..

Tirupati temple problem…..

After fasting and meditating for several days, you began your journey down along the same winding path, starting at sunrise and walking, as before, at variable speeds. Your average speed down the hill was more than your average climbing speed. Prove that there must be a spot along the path that you will pass on both trips at exactly the same time of the day.

PROBLEM

Derive the trend in the behavior of plating adhesion on a silicon substrate from the measured data as a function of substrate area and doping level. The adhesion is measured for 0.5, 1 and 2 cm2 area, and P+, P, N and N+ doping levels. Each measurement is repeated twice.

TABLE (LIST)
Adhesion Strength (106 N / m2)

Doping

Area (cm2)

Expt 1 Expt 2 10 7 5 8 4.3 3 4.1 4.1 3.9 3 2.9 10.2 7.2 6 9 4.7 3.1 4.8 5 5.8 3.2 6.1

P+

P

N

N+

0.5 1 2 0.5 1 2 0.5 1 2 0.5 1 2

TABLE (MATRIX)

Area Doping

0.5 cm2 10 8 4.1 10.2 9 4.8 -

1 cm2 7 4.3 4.1 3 7.2 4.7 5 3.2

2 cm2 5 3 3.9 2.9 6 3.1 5.8 6.1

P+ P N N+

Adhesion strength ( 106 N / m2)

GRAPH

10

Adhesion strength (106 N / m2)

8 6 4 2 0

1 cm2 0.5 cm2

2 cm2

N+

N

P

P+

PROBLEM

Solve the equation:

X = e-X

TABLE (LIST)

X 0 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.55 0.57

LHS 0 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.55 0.57

RHS 1 0.67 0.61 0.55 0.577 0.566

y=x

y = e-x x

TABULAR SOLUTION
y=x

RHS

LHS RHS

LHS

y = e-x x
0 0.4 0.5 0.6

ITERATIVE SOLUTION Xn+1 = e-Xn
y=x x1

x3 x5 x4 x2 x0

y = e-x x

PROBLEM

How good is a particular classroom teaching – learning process ?

TEACHING-LEARNING PROCESS

Student action Student question Student response Teacher question Teacher response Teacher talk Using chalkboard Using charts Using projections Using multimedia

Time

Venn Diagram

SS E I S

Drawing diagrams to Scale
8

11

8 0.11

PROBLEM

How many matches should be played on a knock-out basis, to decide the winner from among ten teams ?

Graph

1

2 3 1 6

4 5 2

6 7 3 7

8 9 4

10 Teams 5

8

9 Winner

LOGICAL THINKING

All men are mortal. Rama is a man. So, Rama is a mortal.

LOGICAL THINKING

To decide a winner from among 10 teams, 9 teams have to be eliminated. Every match eliminates 1 team. Hence, 9 matches need be played for eliminating 9 teams.

LOGICAL THINKING IS EXTENDABLE

To decide a winner from among n teams, n-1 teams have to be eliminated. Every match eliminates 1 team. Hence, n-1 matches need be played for eliminating n-1 teams.

Problem:

The human figures painted by El Greco seem unnaturally tall and thin. An optholmologist surmised that, this is because El Greco suffered a defect of vision that made him see people that way. Is this explanation correct ?

PROBLEM

Why is the computer down ?

ANALYSIS

UPS

PROBLEM
Consider a Wheatstone bridge with three resistors of value R and one resistor of value (R + ∆R). Which of the following two formulae are correct ?

V0 ⎛ ∆R / 4 R ⎞ =⎜ ⎟ Vi ⎝ 1 + ∆R / 2 R ⎠

V0 ⎛ ∆R / 2 R ⎞ =⎜ ⎟ Vi ⎝ 1 + ∆R / 2 R ⎠

Solution by limiting approach or stretching to the extreme.

SUMMARY

STRATEGIES OF PROBLEM SOLVING

Representation Logical thinking Division into sub-problems Stretch to the extreme Verbalization

TECHNIQUES OF REPRESENTATION
• Symbolic representation • Reformulation • Table: list, matrix • Graph • Venn diagram • Drawing diagram to scale

How can I generate ideas ?

Reason can answer questions, but imagination has to ask them

Imagination is more important than knowledge

INTELLIGENCE versus CREATIVITY
• Marilyn vos Savant (IQ 228 – highest ever) is merely a question and answer columnist for Parade magazine. • Richard Feynman (IQ 122 - less than many runof-the-mill physicists) is a Nobel prize winner and recognized as the last American Genius.

INTELLIGENCE versus CREATIVITY

Intelligence and creativity are not the same things. Intelligence in a domain means the ability to function at a high level in that domain, but creativity involves asking new questions and altering the domain. One can be highly intelligent but rigid, noncreative, or lacking in the kind of single-minded passion that drives creators.

WHAT IS CREATIVITY
• Ability to look at the same thing as everyone else and think something different. • Ability to take a fresh look at familiar objects and situations, enriched by past experience, but not constrained by it.

EXAMPLES
Creativity in expression: Warmth During the coming winter, our vivid memories of India will warm us, as we face the snows. Humour Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Communism is exactly its opposite. Disgust

What is mind, does not matter; what is matter, never mind !!

Description of attitudes with the help of “roses” and “thorns”
Optimistic Roses

Pessimistic Thorns Realistic Stoic Humane Selfish Sadistic Love Divine Roses and thorns Roses or thorns Roses for you and Roses for me Roses for me and thorns for you Thorns for you and your blood for me Roses for you and your smile for me Roses for you and your thorns for me

WHAT IS CREATIVITY

• A creative product is a new and useful combination.

Creativity in Indian classical music. Random tapping of a piano by a monkey generates a new pattern, which is not necessarily melodious, and so cannot be regarded as creative.

WHAT IS CREATIVITY

• Creativity can exist in social relationships, even in planning one’s life, apart from art and science.

Creativity in naming of individuals: Na-ma-shi-va-ya-Na-ma-shi-va-ya-Na-ma-shi-va-ya

CREATIVE PROCESS
Mind • Preparation Conscious • Incubation • Illumination • Exposition Sub-conscious

Ideas strike by chance, but only to a prepared mind.

REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATIVITY
• Above-average intelligence: e.g. Darwin “virtually innumerate”. • Strong motivation • Hard work • Discipline • Organization • Open and flexible mind

AN OPEN MIND…….
- is receptive to alternate points of view, regardless of the present level of commitment to a belief. - acknowledges areas of common ground with those who hold alternate beliefs, and allows dialogue with someone with opposing views without attacking the proponent of those views.

Nothing dies faster than a new idea in a closed-mind !

A FLEXIBLE MIND…….

- is capable of leaping sideways, upwards and downwards around a problem before reaching a solution.

AN OPEN AND FLEXIBLE MIND HAS…..
• Keen observation • Wide information base • A habit of analyzing other creative works. • Ability to criticize and judge the worth of one’s own ideas.

PRESCRIPTIONS FOR IMPROVING MY THINKING

• Do mental exercises • Maintain a note book

• Look at the world in terms of analogies

• Learn different approaches to the same problem

MENTAL EXERCISES

Plant 10 trees in 5 rows with 4 trees in each row.

Connect the nine dots by drawing just four lines, and without lifting the pen from paper.

NOTE KEEPING
• Noting ideas as they occur - helps you to remember them - speeds up your thinking - focuses attention on your subject - stimulates cross-fertilization of ideas • If you do not record your ideas you will spend all your metal energy trying to resurrect old ones.

NOTE KEEPING
• Record ideas thematically • Review your notebooks when - you face a problem - you found a solution ! • Sources of ideas - yourself - others Look for ideas in other fields as well, not just your own.

ANALOGIES
• An analogy enables a look at a situation as an inter-related whole. • Analytical approach on the other hand dismembers a whole into parts, and may destroy the attributes which may pertain to the phenomenon as a whole. • Problems are solved and creative works are generated by transfer of existing ideas to new surroundings • The active process leading to creativity is metaphorical in nature

ANALOGIES IN SCIENCE
• Electromagnetic wave ⇔ Matter wave • Solar system ⇔ Atomic structure • Brownian motion of dust particles ⇔ Electrons in a crystal • Flow of electrons in a crystal ⇔ movement of a ball in a viscous medium • Energy quantization ⇔ pouring of sand

ANALOGIES IN PHILOSOPHY

East : west ⇔ Mahaveer : Superman

DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO THE SAME PROBLEM
Example: calculation of π • π = 2√2 • 2√2 < π < 4 (square), 3 < π < 2√3 (hexagon) • π / 4 = Tan-1 1 = (x – x3/3 + x5/5 – x7/7 + ….) at x = 1 • Buffon’s needle experiment π = 2 x (total drops) / (no. of hits)

MORE PRESCRIPTIONS …..
• Arrange and rearrange what you read or hear, from different points of view. • Allow opportunities for cross-fertilization of ideas so as to generate new problems. - interact: discuss, answer doubts, teach, explain. - Set aside time to read in other disciplines, keeping track of what others are doing that seems original. - if possible, work in areas outside of areas we are currently learning about

SUMMARY
As per psychology, creativity is an ability to see things differently than others. It is a skill that can be taught and developed through practice. The requirements for creativity are – a strong motivation and an open mind, not high intelligence. Creativity can be nurtured by learning about different ways to a problem, visualizing the world in terms of analogies, doing mental exercises, and note keeping.

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