Dear Mr. Karasik,

I have ... troubles with all the TRIZ literrature. It seems to me "too much" For example : there are 40 principles at a certain level of abstraction At a higher level there are the separation principles (4,5 , 6 ..) At an even higher level there is only one principle : separation How can a contradiction be solved without separation ?? Then why publish more and more examples and classifications of these principles ?

It is the same with the trend of evolution : there appear every day a new trend. My feeling is that there are very few trends few describing the birth of a function few describing the change of a function few describing the dead of a function When obseving nature, we see that all that is governed by obtaining a maximum of energy and spending a minimum of energy (energy in nature is the common currency) In technical systems it is driven also by energy but not always, and that makes the trend of evolution difficult to predict. But telling that segmentation goes from solid to hollow solid to powder to liquid etc does not convince me. If applied to a brick it does not works because a liquid brick has no more the same function.

Michel LECOQ,

Belgium.


Dear Mr. Lecoq,

I understand your frustration. Suppose that somebody teaches the course of astronomy and presents Copernic model, Ptolemy model, Kepler model, ancient Egiptians' model, etc. without explaining which was the first, which was the second, etc, and in what respect the subsequent ones were better (if any) than the previous ones. Students of such a teacher would definitely imagine that all of the models are equally valid and can be used simultaneously. They would then wondered why there were so many of them and why they were overlaping. And would not know which of them and when to apply.

Meanwhile, the TRIZ literature presents TRIZ like the above teacher. That is why you are bewildered and frustrated.

To help you, let me put various tools of TRIZ in the chronological order. The concept of technical contradictions was the first. Based on this concept, Altshuller identified a number of methods of resolving technical contradictions and proposed the contradiction matrix. By 1969 (?) when it was first published, there were 40 methods and 39 contradictory parameters. By 1973, there were already 50+ methods of resolving technical contradictions. However, by then the deficiencies of the concept became apparent. It was very difficult to solve problems with the help of contradiction matrix. It was ineffective in most cases.

In 1973, or a bit earlier, the concept of physical contradictions came into existence. Soon after, I concluded that they were always resolved by separating contradictory requirements between somewhat opposite entities. A number of separation principles were proposed.

The latter tool turned out to be much more efficient than the contradiction matrix. Altshuller stopped working on it, stopped indentifying new methods of resolving technical contradictions, and never published those 50+. To this day, the world knows just 40 principles.

Initially, Altshuller did not want to get rid of technical contradictions completely. He proposed the following scheme: problem solver first identifies technical contradiction, then he/she identifies physical contradiction "hidden" behind the technical one, and applies separation principles. But then a question arose: at what point in time to use the contradiction matrix and 40 principles ? There was no answer. And starting 1974 we used to solve problems by identifying physical contradictions right away. The contradiction matrix and the 40 principles died as a tool.

But in the late 1980s, Valeri Tsourikov got obsessed with computerization of TRIZ. The contradiction matrix turned out to be most suitable for this purpose. He created a computerized version of the matrix, marketed it, etc., and thereby brought it again into the being. This is how the contradiction matrix became very popular around the globe and at times shadowed the rest of TRIZ.

If we go back to our astronomical analogy, then it looks as follows. Somebody decided to computerize the course of astronomy and found that Ptolemy system is fastest and easiest to put it on computer and sell. He invested money in advertising the product, marketing it, etc. People not knowlegable in astronomy bought it and started to use. For them Ptolemy system turned out to be the latest word of the science.

In short, the unscrupulous TRIZ-commerce brought about the mixture of the historical layers of TRIZ in the TRIZ literature and caused confusion in people. Hope, I answered your first question.

Now, let us consider your second question about why publish more and more examples. This is because the publicly available TRIZ does not work or works poorly. By accumulating a database of examples, people are hoping to raise the efficiency of TRIZ.

The correct way is, of course, to improve TRIZ itself. The 100% efficient tool needs little examples. Basically, any science starts with accumulating examples. But after this stage is done the stage of generalization begins. As a result, some formulae/theories come into existence, from which all the examples can be derived as particular cases. As soon as the correct formulae/theories found, there is no need in databases of examples any longer. The latter, however, still has not happened to TRIZ (as it is known to the public).

Now, let's go to your third question. I do not keep track of all "TRIZ" literature and do not know what is going on with the "trends" of evolution. But it seems that there is brisk sale of everything related to "trends". That is why the TRIZ merchants are charging ahead and inventing the more and more "trends". The simple rule of economy governs: demand brings about supply. What provoked the demand and what is the quality of the supply, is another story to be discussed elsewhere.

Sincerely,

Yevgeny Karasik