Y. B. Karasik

Thought Guiding Systems Inc.
Ottawa, Canada

Abstract:The January issue of the TRIZ journal presented Darrell Mann's views on the contradiction matrix. We found them worthy of our critique.

Poor England! She wears clothes went out of fashion in Russia ! Thirty years ago G. S. Altshuller abandoned the work on the contradiction matrix. Now, Darrell Mann undertook to continue it.

As is known, the contradiction matrix aims at indicating methods (out of 40 known) of overcoming a technical contradiction. But by the beginning of 1970s, it became apparent that:

  1. technical contradictions are not always present in difficult problems;
  2. instead, physical contradictions happen more often, but also not always;
  3. no strong invention can nowdays be made by any of the 40 methods;
  4. instead, complexes of methods have to be used.

That is why, Altshuller stopped expanding his list of methods beyond those 40 and stopped to work on the matrix. Darrell Mann's intentions demonstrate that without knowledge of the history of TRIZ, it is impossible to conduct meaningful TRIZ research.

The latter becomes absolutely apparent from the final phrases of Darrell Mann's article: "CREAX nv in Belgium is in the process of systematically analyzing and codifying patents for contradictions, trends of evolution, inventive standards and knowledge/effects content, starting from the present day and working back in numerical order, patent-by-patent back to the time when systematic analysis previously stopped."

Sounds reasonable for a layman, but suppose that somebody decided to continue Newton's experiments from the point where they were previously stopped. Would it change Newton laws ?

Altshuller aimed at creating a science of invention. In science, laws do not need to be updated every year. Darrell Mann's intention actually means that he does not believe that Altshuller discovered something fundamental. Quite possible. But then why to haunt his objective: "analyzing patents for contradictions, trends of evolution, inventive standards and knowledge/effects content" ? May be it is more prudent to think of another research paradigm ?

And the last but not the least. Altshuller never analyzed "patent-by-patent" in numerical order. He had a talent of extracting interesting inventions from the thick invention bulletins published monthly. It is a talent akin to the talent of a chess player to see the winning combinations amongst the tons of others. Without such a talent any research in TRIZ is doomed from the start.