This is not a book about algorithms . Certainly, it is full of algorithms , but that 's
not what this book is about . This book is about possibilities . Its purpose is to
present you not only with the prerequisite mandatory knowledge of the available
problem-solving techniques , but more importantly to expand your ability to
frame new problems and to think creatively - in essence, to solve the problem
of how to solve problems , a talent that has become a lost art . Instead of devoting
the necessary time and critical thinking required to frame a problem, to adjust
our representation of the pieces of the puzzle, we have become complacent and
simply reach for the most convenient subroutine, a magic pill to cure our ills .
The trouble with magic is that , empirically, it has a very low success rate, and
often relies on external devices such as mirrors and smoke. As with magic, most
of the seemingly successful applications of problem solving in the real world are
illusory, mere specters of what could have been achieved.
The importance of effective problem solving has never been greater . Technology
has enabled us with the ability to affect the environment to such an
extent that the decisions we make today may have irrevocable future consequences
. This same technology continues to expand the number of people we
interact with and who affect our lives . By consequence, problem solving grows
increasingly more difficult because there are more factors to consider - and
the potentially worst course of action is to ignore these factors , hoping that a
solution found for a "simpler problem" will be effective in spite of these other
concerns. Whether you are determining the proper operation of your business ,
the proper use of environmental resources for your country, or merely the best
route to get to work in the morning, you simply cannot afford to assume away
your interaction with the rest of world. As these interactions become ever more
frequent and complex, procedures for handling real-world problems become imperative.
There is a great deal to be gained from solving problems , and a great
deal to be lost in solving them poorly.