TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving)

TRIZ: Theory of Inventive Problem Solving was invented by Genrich S. Alsthller.

Genrich S. Altshuller, a mechanical engineer and patent expert, served in the Soviet Navy in the 1940s. He screened over 200,000 patents looking for inventive problems and how they were solved. Of these (over 1,500,000 patents have now been screened), only 40,000 had somewhat inventive solutions; the rest were straight forward improvements.

He clearly defined an inventive problem as one in which the solution causes another problem to appear, such as increasing the strength of a metal plate causing its weight to get heavier. Usually, inventors must resort to a trade-off and compromise between the features and thus do not achieve an ideal solution. In his study of patents, Altshuller found that many described a solution that eliminated or resolved the contradiction and required no trade-off.

Altshuller categorized these patents in a novel way. Instead of classifying them by industry, such as automotive, aerospace, etc., he removed the subject matter to uncover the problem solving process. He found that often the same problems had been solved over and over again using one of only forty fundamental inventive principles. If only later inventors had knowledge of the work of earlier ones, solutions could have been discovered more quickly and efficiently.

Here are the steps in his method.
Step 1. Identifying Problem
Step 2. Formulate the problem

Restate the problem in terms of physical contradictions. Identify problems that could occur. Could improving one technical characteristic to solve a problem cause other technical characteristics to worsen, resulting in secondary problems arising? Are there technical conflicts that might force a trade-off?

Step 3. Search for Previously Well-Solved Problem

Step 4. Look for Analogous Solutions and Adapt to My Solution

Altshuller extracted from the world wide patents 40 inventive principles. These are hints that will help an engineer find a highly inventive (and patentable) solution to the problem.
Examples from patents are also suggested with these 40 inventive principles.

I really like the work of Altshuller, he extract 40 inventive principles from a large example set of inventions. Only problem is that the pinciples are very "enginerring-oriented". I think it's possible to further generalize these pinciples, so that it can be used in any other field. I will work on this later.

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