SureMath problem solving
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Hierarchical Structure

OBJECTIVE: To understand and use the fundamental problem-solving element, Request-Response-Result, to solve problems.
Sequential and nested requests combine to form a problem solution. Request-Response-Result is used recursively, giving rise to a logical, hierarchical solution structure.

The process automatically produces the often recommended breaking down of a problem into smaller, simpler problems.

problem solving using suremath
problem solving using suremath

The problem requests a result. The information for responding to this request is available from the problem statement, general knowledge or course subject matter.
Development of the solution results from responding to requests made by the initial equation. This divides the problem into smaller, simpler problems. Irrelevant information in a problem statement is automatically ignored since it is never requested by an equation.

The problem statement is simply a source of information. There is no need to unravel, dissect, understand, sort, list, rearrange, reword, interpret, simplify, analyze or take any other action on the problem statement. The equations will ask for information as needed. In earlier grades the information requested will be in the problem statement. In more advanced courses, particularly in subjects such as physics and chemistry, some of the information needed will involve course content.

Have your students identify instances of hierarchical organization of information in their environment. Some examples are tables of content, indexes, hierarchical menus and file organization, bulleted memos and letters, outlines and so forth. Help them recognize that many things in their lives are organized hierarchically.

Exercise in using the problem-solving principles can be obtained in a set of interactive problems linked to this page.


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A SureMath solution. Copyright 1998, Howard C. McAllister.