Reference and Educations

4 Key Stages of the Puzzles and Problem Solving Process

By Anumit
  • Jan 17, 2016

Learning to solve problems, especially new and challenging ones, gives us several bonuses, much beyond just the mere pleasure of problem-solving success.   Helping us with our schoolwork and studies, and later on, in whatever kind of work we decide to pursue are some of the definite bonuses in getting into the habit of and enjoying solving programming problems and puzzles. 

Most software engineers and those involved in programming of some sort, often cite solving puzzles and algorithmic problems as their pass times and hobbies.  Studies have shown that technologists and software engineers, who have a passion for and are into puzzling, logic games, and problem solving, usually fare much better professionally than their counterparts who refrain from such mentally challenging hobbies and activities.  It is little wonder that you can hardly visit one of the technical institutions world over, without being posed with a puzzle problem to solve – these techies right from their early days always enjoy solving puzzles and related activities.

Now then, if solving puzzle problems are all that it is made out to be, with not only helping us to learn and work more efficiently and effectively, but also by helping us derive tremendous pleasure from it, should we not be doing more of them?  Surely!  In fact, it would behoove us all to not only just do more puzzling, but it would be worth our while to learn to do them well too.  Learning to solve puzzle-problems is not really that difficult after all.  And there are some simple ways to hone our skills to do just that and get good with it.

As Moshe F. Rubinstein, a specialist in scientific problem solving at the University of California, clearly defines problem solving as not being just a hit-or-miss chance exercise, but a process that has four distinct stages of problem-solving.  Moshe describes these stages of problem-solving as follows:

Stage 1:Preparation

Review and study the elements and components of the problem and indentify and understand their relationships.

Stage 2:Incubation

If you solve the problem quickly, that is fine.  Otherwise, you let it be and you sleep over it. This may be a stage of frustration for you since you are unable to get to the bottom of the problem, find the answer and solve it.  At this stage you may most likely not see the possibility of solving the problem.  The frustration is built up further at this stage, when you have no idea on how to proceed with solving the problem.

Stage 3:Inspiration

Like a bolt of lightening, an idea on possibly solving the problem just dawns on you out of the blues.  This sudden knowledge of possibly being able to solve the problem excites you to no end.

Stage 4:Verification

Now here you test and verify your idea.  You check if your idea does in fact work, and if it is a viable solution.

Almost all of the highly gifted innovators and thinkers including inventors, physicists, mathematicians, and other scientists of the world have adopted and used this or some similar form of this four-stage problem-solving process.  All these great thinkers and problem-solvers have used their own version of this four-stage problem-solving process to succeed with all their groundbreaking inventions and discoveries.  Interestingly, as a regular practice many software professionals and programmers visit such puzzles’ sites and enjoy solving intricate puzzles on a regular basis.

Knowing the process of dealing with and solving puzzles and problems is a good thing.   But, that in itself is not enough, if we do not put this valuable knowledge to practice and good use and execute them with our puzzling and problem solving activities.

As in most other activities and in business as well, the challenge is almost always in the execution.  The various rules to help in putting the problem-solving processes to practice, and to effectively execute them is a subject for another article. There are several interactive sites for puzzles that focus on puzzling and solving problems.

QueryHome with their Puzzles Section ( is one such wonderful place where users not only can test their minds, but challenge their peers, associates, and friends as well.  QueryHome rates its users based on their participation and activities, and provide them reputation points and reward badges.  More than 50,000 people visit QueryHome every day, where users get involved in puzzling, and also solve others’ problems.  These regular users of QueryHome love puzzling and problem solving, and derive great satisfaction and pleasure in solving problems and helping others in a positive collaborative way. To solve mind blowing puzzles one can visit here

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