Evaluating Research On Puzzles

The research on solving puzzles in cognitive psychology has been one of the most successful areas in the discipline. Since it was first proposed in the later 1950s, problem-space theory has been quite successful and has continued to expand steadily to encompass more and more problem-solving phenomena. Later on in this and the next chapter we will look at some further extensions of the theory. But before we do this it is perhaps a good idea to review the progress afforded by puzzle problems.

Benef its of problem-space research on puzzles

Newell and Simon's problem-space theory makes substantial and fundamental contributions to cognitive theory and to our understanding of people's problem-solving abilities. Theoretically, a fundamental contribution of problem-space theory that cannot be overstated, is that it contains a normative theory of problem solving. It allows us to specify the structure of problems in an idealised way and to define the best solution to a problem. For most of the puzzles described here we can elaborate the problem space and point to the correct/best solution to the problem by tracing the shortest sequence of moves from the initial state to

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