Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Analyzing GMAT math problems using the Science of Thinking(ScoT) approach

The first step in the problem solving process is problem analysis. Problem analysis comprises
  • Problem Definition
  • Solution length
  • Problem length
  • Constraints and conditions

Let me explain the process of classification of problem based on their definition now.

Problems can be classified as a poorly defined or a well defined problem.

A well defined problem everything relevant and required is clearly specified, without any ambiguity or uncertainty, such that a solution, even if it involves complex calculations can be arrived at with accuracy. You can predict the path to take or steps required to solve the problem.

A poorly defined problem much of the data & relationships are hidden or not clear.

Lets take a poorly defined problem.

A says to B: I will be three times as old as you were when I was five years older than you are. I am 5/4th as old as you will be and then you will realize that you will be double the age you were. If the sum of the future ages of A and B is 50, what are their present ages?

The data present in the above question is cryptic. The interpretation of this problem lies in your ability to attach meaning to the verb tense.

To analyze the above problem you have to represent the problem diagrammatically to understand the relationship between the variables.

Try creating a table with the past ages, present ages and future ages as the columns. Given below is a simplified version of the table.

More ScoT approaches follow this link..

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