# On misconceptions about separation principles. Part 1.

### Y. B. Karasik, Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp., Ottawa, Canada. e-mail:karasik@sympatico.ca

In a series of 1974-75 publications (beginning with "Mathematical Elements of the Theory of Heuristic Methods") I proposed and developed the idea of generic separation principles (in addition to separation in space and time proposed by Altshuller in 1973). Specifically I argued that any physical contradiction can be resolved not only by separating contradictory requirements between different locations in space or different points in time but between any different things1. For example, contradiction "X has to have property P (or has to be P) and has to not have property P (or has to be not P)" can be resolved by separating P and not P between T1 and T2: T1 is made to have/be P and T2 not.

These works led to the concept of separation principles in TRIZ. However, the meaning of separation very often gets lost on TRIZniks. Some people think that if something resolves contradiction then it is a separation principle. For example, employing a phase transition (as well as any other physical effect) may solve a problem and thereby resolve contradiction. But it does not make the physical effect a separation principle. It just implements separation prompted by a separation principle. Usually, this separation principle is separation in time or in space2 and the correct formulation of contradiction is "object has to be solid (or fluid, or gas, etc) and has to not be solid (or fluid, or gas)". Then it is resolved as follows: at the location A and/or at the moment X it is solid (or fluid, or gas) and at other locations/moments it is not. But when contradiction is formulated incorrectly it may indeed appear that the required separation is separation between different phases of the matter, which is a spurious separation. Just such incorrect formulations of contradictions led to calling a physical effect of phase transition separation principle.

When in 2000 I pointed this out in an article published in TRIZ-journal, I received the following response from Mark Barkan (addressed to the Editor of TRIZ-journal Ellen Domb):

• From: "Mark G. Barkan" <mark@concept-catalysts.com>
To: editor@triz-journal.com
Date: 10/19/00 3:41 PM

RE: On the History of Separation Principles by Y.B. Karasik

Dear Ellen,

I read Karasik's paper with great interest. Although humbled by his accomplishments in the field of TRIZ, I respectfully disagree with his statement regarding Separation in Phase Transition. Below is the verbatim quote from his paper:

"To this day I view this method (separation in phase transition) as something artificial born in the heat of polemics. To this day I do not see the usefulness of this method as well as where is separation here. To this day I consider it as alien to the idea of separation and as absolutely redundant."

First, a couple of examples:

1. Sandblasting with regular sand presents potentially very expensive cleaning problem. Therefore the contradiction, the sand must be there and must not be there. Substituting functionality for an object we have - an abrasive must be there and must not be there. Enter dry ice. In solid phase it rivals sand as an abrasive. Left out, it will transition into liquid and, then, evaporate. We solved an after blasting cleaning problem by introducing Separation in Phase Transition.

2. A well known problem, used repeatedly to illustrate the 40 principles. How to extract a ball, which is pressed into a hole, with no access from the bottom. Use Preliminary Action, of course. A drop of liquid under the ball will evaporate, when the heat is applied. As the gas has to expand in the constant volume, the pressure rises, eventually pushing the ball out of the hole. Now, let's assume we don't know about 40 principles. Then, we can formulate a contradiction: a force must be there to push the ball out - the force must not be there during normal operation. One of the ways, of course, is to introduce some liquid, which, when heated in the constant volume... and so on. Interestingly, enough, this problem could be solved by application of S-Field analysis. The ball is an incomplete S-Field, add a substance, liquid, and a field, heat, and we have a complete S-Field.

The convention and application of any tool is defined functionally. If we are discussing the need to extract the ball, then we have separation in phase transition. If we are discussing the use of a substance to generate a force, then we can look at this whole process as separation in time.

As usual, The TRIZ-Journal is the pleasure to read.

Best regards,

Mark G. Barkan, Ph.D.
Concept Catalysts, Inc.
mark@concept-catalysts.com

Ellen Domb forwarded me Barkan's letter with the following request:

• Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 13:41:55 -0400
From: Ellen Domb <EllenDomb@compuserve.com>
Sender: Ellen Domb <EllenDomb@compuserve.com>
To: Yevgeny Karasik <karasik@sympatico.ca>

Dear Dr. Karasik:

Would you like to reply to this letter to the editor about your article? I will print the letter and my reply (I think both his examples are "separation in time") in the November issue. In order to include any remarks you have, I need to have them by Oct. 29.

Thanks!
Ellen

I replied:

• From: "Yevgeny Karasik" <karasik@sympatico.ca>
To: "Ellen Domb" <EllenDomb@compuserve.com>
Date: 10/23/00 5:34 PM
RE: Re: letter from a reader

Dear Ellen Domb,

I agree with you that both examples are on separation in time. Phase transition is merely a physical effect that implements such a separation.

Separation principles are not the final point in searching for a solution. They just provide the high level functional description of the idea of a solution that should be augmented by the low level physical implementation. In some problems such physical implementation is simple and obvious that creates illusion that separation principles themselves finalize the solution. In fact, there should be a catalogue of physical effects which implement that or another separation principle. Otherwise, one can propose not only separation in phase transition but also separation in Hall effect and many other separations of the kind.

It is an old story. From the early stages of the work on creating the catalogue of physical effects in TRIZ, I pointed out that physical effects should be grouped not only by physical action they provide but also by TRIZ operators they implement. This has not been done (by Altshuller + 80 poor souls aka TRIZ Masters). Not surprisingly, therefore, that Mark Barkan erred.

Sincerely, Y. Karasik

Ellen Domb forwarded my reply to Mark Barkan with the following note:

• From: "Ellen Domb" <EllenDomb@compuserve.com>
To: "Mark Barkan" <mark@concept-catalysts.com>
Sent: Monday, October 23, 2000 11:37 PM
Subject: Re: letter from a reader

Reply from Karasik. We need some controversy!

Ellen Domb, Ph.D.
The PQR Group, 190 N. Mountain Ave., Upland CA 91786 USA

A response from Barkan was not too long in coming:

• From: "Mark G. Barkan", <mark@concept-catalysts.com>
To: "Ellen Domb", <EllenDomb@compuserve.com>
Date: 10/24/00 3:12 AM
RE: Re: letter from a reader

Controversy you have! Any separation may be described as separation in time or space only if you look at the subject. However, let's take the sandblasting example. While it is true that the substance we use is solid at one time and then liquid and gas, the contradiction, in its initial form, is about the abrasive. It must be there and it must not be there. What is missing from Karasik's chain of thought is the recognition of the fact that the function is primary and the subject is secondary. When resolving a contradiction we need to look at the functional requirements. Although true - phase transition is a physical effect, it is also the means of separation. Just like time and space.

Mark G. Barkan, Ph.D.
Concept Catalysts, Inc.
At the same time Ellen Domb sent me a note indicating that my possible reply to Barkan would not be welcome:
• Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 23:37:22 -0400 From: Ellen Domb <EllenDomb@compuserve.com>
Sender: Ellen Domb <EllenDomb@compuserve.com>
To: Karasik <karasik@sympatico.ca>

Dear Dr. Karasik: This will be the last in the exchange for this month. If other readers want to get involved in the discussion, we'll consider another format for continuing.