How to Solve It


This section lists George Polya's "heuristics", or principles, for solving mathematical problems. Heuristics are "rules of thumb" that you can apply in sequence to your problems, to get a better chance of arriving at the solution, in (hopefully) an optimum amount of time. They are not algorithms. They are not guaranteed to work. But if you master their application, they can be quite helpful. This "Principles" link to the left gives a short overview of the problem solving principles. The "A Dialogue" link shows you a sample dialogue between a teacher and student, oriented towards helping the student understand the application of the problem solving principles. The "Practice Problems" link above takes you through a set of interactive sessions oriented towards the solution of specific problems, so that you can develop your problem solving skills.

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