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Studying When you're stuck with a problem

  1. Aug 5, 2016 #1


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    Hey guys and girls,

    We have all stumbled upon some problems/tasks where
    We would have no idea how to proceed. (I am not talking about calculation errors).

    What works best for you in these situations?
    I usually go do something completely else. Activating
    Other parts of the brain may give you a different view on the situation. And then there are always people you can get advice from.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2016 #2
    Provided it's a problem, and not an exercise, i immerse myself as deeply as possible into the problem, and try to leave no stone unturned. After adequate immersion, i sometimes take breaks from the problem, and let my subconscious do some work. Coming back to the problem after a small break lets you see things from a new perspective.

    Similar to when you spend a lot of time editing an essay or piece of writing, and you feel like all the grammatical mistakes have been removed. Yet, if you take a break from it for a couple days, you come back and quickly see things in new light.
  4. Aug 5, 2016 #3
    I'm a night owl, I do most of my problem solving at night, so when I get stuck on a problem I just sleep on it, finding the solution gets easier the following day.
  5. Aug 5, 2016 #4


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    First thing I do, is to investigate the problem carefully enough, in order to be sure I have no kind of misunderstandings. What is given and what is asked, precisely.
    As a second step, I am trying to think in patterns: if I have some strategy for the problem at hand already in place, in order to apply / adapt. If this cannot give me a way to solve it, then I resort to some heuristic method. Trial and error is usually part of this.

    After spending fair efforts, if I still cannot find a solution, I do my search on the net and / or ask for some informed opinion, but these last two, only to get some hint(s), in order to proceed on my own. There is nothing better in the process of problem solving, than reaching the solution yourself.

    Last but not least, I do all the above intermittently. I take some rest, do something completely different as OP says, in order to "flush" my memory for the particular problem and I put my efforts again. Sleep is extremely important and unfortunately many times overlooked, because this is the way to start your next day, fresh.
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