## Systematic Guess and Check

Problem Solving Strategy

[Page under construction]

The key is that when you find that you don't have an answer (when you get stuck), do not completely start over, but back up to the point you made your last choice and change that move.

1. Make your first move. If possible, pick a move which will lead to a minimum number of choices for move number two (perhaps there is only one choice for move number two, great).
2. Make your move number two, and note if you made a choice for the move or if the move was "locked in" ("locked in" means that you did not have a choice at that point).
3. Continue making moves. At each step, note if you made a choice for the move, or if the move was "locked in."
4. When you get to a point you cannot make another move, back up to the point you made your last choice and change that move. Then continue making moves. If you get stuck again, back up to the point you made your last choice and change that move. Eventually, you may have to back up to the first move and change it.

A good problem/puzzle for practicing this process is

• The Vex Game By Derek Ramey found at http://www.spikesgamezone.com/gameZfree/vex/index.html

I'd like to list more problem and game examples here. E-mail me with your suggestions.

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James R. Olsen, Western Illinois University
E-mail: jr-olsen@wiu.edu
updated June 20, 2005