Problem Solving

  • Calculating Prodigy Shakuntala Devi

    Shakuntala Devi, who is known as the human calculator and is able to make complex calculations in her head within seconds, is interviewed by Russia Today. She once set a world record for mental calculation by multiplying two 13-digit numbers 7,686,369,774,870 times 2,465,099,745,779 in her head, giving the answer in 28 seconds. (The answer is 18,947,668,104,042,434,089,403,730.) What do problem solving…

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  • McGyver Mastercard

    In this Mastercard commercial from the Priceless campaign, action television character MacGyver escapes using a car air freshener. He uses a tube sock to slide down a line, and starts a stalled truck with a paper clip, ballpoint pen, rubber band, tweezers, nasal spray, and turkey baster. How do the actions of television character MacGyver relate to the concept of…

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  • The Tower of Hanoi

    This clip is a home video of a man solving a 6-ring Tower of Hanoi problem at the Haifa Science Museum. (Many other videos of how to solve this problem with up to 10 rings can be found on YouTube.) How could someone solve the tower of Hanoi problem strategically? Judging from what you have seen in the video clip,…

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  • Rachel Maddow Football Analogy

    In this clip from the Rachel Maddow Show, she uses a football analogy to discuss the (at the time) upcoming presidential election. If you were to write out this analogy, how would you do so? Are there multiple analogies at play within the larger one? Does this analogy make understanding the situation easier? Why is the search for analogies a…

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  • The River-Crossing Problem

    Robin Wilson, Gresham Professor of Geometry, gives a quick run-through of the origins of the river-cross problem and the basis of how to solve it. Many more explanations of various puzzles can be found on the Gresham College website. How do you get the fox, the goose, and the bag of corn across the river without any of them being…

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  • The Four Cube Problem

    Another presentation by Robin Wilson, Gresham Professor of Geometry, this clip explains the four cube problem and how to solve it. Many more explanations of various puzzles can be found on the Gresham College website. How might solving a problem like this relate to the concepts of insight and trial and error? What is the Gestalt approach to problem solving?

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  • AOL Anagrams

    In this promotional video for America Online (AOL), a group of actors perform skits based on anagrams of the companys name. These anagrams include eel in macaroni, Im in race alone, and nice lo mein aar. Can you think of any other possibilities? Can you come up with any interesting anagrams for Cengage Learning? How might you act them out?

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  • How To Connect/Solve the 9 Dots Problem

    This short demonstration starts by several incorrect attempts to solve the classic 9 dots problem, before finally showing one of the two possible correct answers. What is the other way to solve this problem? What is an unnecessary constraint and how does it relate to solving this problem?

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