Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to solve difficult problems

A Nobel Laureate's advice on how to tackle the hard problems:
In general, if people in a field have bogged down on questions that seem very hard, it is a good idea to ask whether they are really working on the right questions. Often some other question is not only easier to answer but actually more interesting! (One drawback of this trick is that it often gets people angry. An academic who has spent years on a hard problem is rarely grateful when you suggest that his field can be revived by bypassing it).*
* Paul Krugman, "How I work."

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