Resolving Technical Contradictions Between Parameters By ... Trading Them Off !

Y. B. Karasik,
Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.

TRIZ distinguishes between resolving contradictions between parameters of a system and trading them off (or compromising). The former is labeled to be the true inventive approach to solving problems and the later is branded as not inventive.

Meanwhile, paradoxically as it may appear, one can practically uncouple contradictory parameters (i.e. resolve contradiction between them) by ... trading one parameter for the other. The procedure is as follows.

Suppose that parameters X1 and X2 are contradictory. Let us instead of uncoupling them trade X2 for X1. In other words, let's make the value of X1 OK at the expense of X2. Then to make the value of X2 OK too relationship between X1 and X2 can be made contingent upon a third parameters X3. (Such a dependency can be either artificially introduced with the help of some artificial means or just discovered as already existing and controlable.) Then one can leave X1 as is and make X2 OK too at the expense of X3.

If the value of X3 does not matter, then the problem is solved: X1 is OK, X2 is OK. The essence of invention here is inventing (or discovering) a means of making correlation between X1 and X2 to depend on X3.

Suppose, however, that the value of X3 matters and it is not OK when both X1 and X2 are OK. Then the above procedure can be repeated. The means of making correlation between X1, X2, and X3 to depend on X4 can be invented or discovered. As soon as it is done, X4 can be set to such a value that all three parameters X1, X2, and X3 will be OK.

If the value of X4 does not matter, this is the end to solving the problem. Otherwise, the procedure can be repeated indefinitely. At some point it will always stop. It will happen when all parameters X1, X2, X3, ...., XN become OK and XN+1 would not matter. (It can be proven that such a finite N does exist for any engineering problem but the proof is beyond the scope of this article, which involves the subtle properties of N-dimensional manifolds.)

Many inventions in electronics, radio and other fields were made by such a step-by-step introduction of new parameters to play with and trade them off rather than by resolving contradictions between the initial set of parameters. The inventiveness here was not in resolving contradictions but in inventing/discovering a means of making relationships between the given parameters to depend on new parameters. These kind of inventions was overlooked in TRIZ which never investigated how they came about.