'sitEtion jf^
Fapi*r #111
August 14, 1967
CHAPTER IX
The Data
a set
The subject, facing a blackboard, had before him (Figure 1)
ers connected
of twelve rules for manipulating expressions containing lett
{/^ 0 The con
by "dots" (o), "wedges" (v), "horseshoes" (=»), and "tildes"
"not," but the
nectors stand respectively for "and, 18 "or," "implies," and
discover this
subject is not told this; and we can assume that he does not
s of their syn
interpretation, hence, treats the connectors entirely in term
tactic properties and without reference to semantic meaning.
forms
The rules, shown in Figure 1 9 show that expressions of certain
ons of different
(at the tails of the arrows) can be transformed into expressi
C1
In the Carnegie Tech study, the subjects had studied the rules
and solved (or vtere helped to solve) three relatively easy practice prob
lems (Figure 2). They then attempted Problem Dl, followed by Cl. Protocols
were not taken for all problems for all subjects. In all of our analyses,
studies, the experimenter instructs the subject that his problem is to ob
tain the expression in the upper right corner from the expression or expres
sions in the upper left corner, using the twelve rules. At any time the sub
ject can ask the experimenter to apply one of the rules to an expression that
is already on the blackboard. If the transformation is legal, the experimenter
writes down the new expression in the lefthand column, with the name of the
rule in the righthand column beside it. The actual course of solution for
stances suggest.
The General Problem Solver, which we described in Chapter VT, was
initially developed as a theory of behavior in the logic task. We will use
GIF #111 *V~
the logic task, and the way in which GPS explains important features of that
behavior, we consider first a single protocol: Subject 9 on Problem Alpha 1.
This was a relatively simple training problem, the first problem the sub
ject attempted after studying the twelve rules. In Figure 3, the protocol
of Sub9 is shown on the right. On the left side of the same Figure is a
guage of the computer program. To fit the theory 3 we must, for example,
interpret a sentence such as, "I'm looking at the idea of reversing these
jects 11 and L2o" We have already seen that to make such a translation is,
in practice, not too difficult; and having made it, we can determine in great
detail the similarities and differences between the programs of the subject
ject's behavior. Observe that the subject solves the entire problem in his
head and then asks the experimenter to write the actual transformations on
the blackboard. The CIS program, in the version shown here, makes no pro
vision for such & distinction between the internal and external worlds;
hence, the trace corresponds only to the subject's covert (but verbalized)
problem solving. For example, GPS and the subject both discover in the same
sequence the correct rules for transforming the problem expression, but the
subject "publicly" applied these rules in the reverse order
Another difference, characteristic of these data (and, as we have
abundantly seen, of protocol data in general) is that a number of things
appear in the trace that have no correspondents in the human protocolmost
prominently, the reference here in the trace to rules 5, 7, and 8. We can
not tell whether these omissions indicate an error in the theory, or whether
the subject noticed the rules in question but failed to mention them aloud.
In contrast to these differences, there is some striking corres
pondence in detail between the computer trace and the subject's protocol.
First, in noticing differences between pairs of expressions, both GPS and
the subject pay most attention to differences in the positions of symbols,
next most attention to the presence or absence of " K signs, and least at
tention to differences in connectives. This shows up 9 for example, in the
refusal of both to apply Rule 2, after mentioning it, to reorder the expres
sion, because applying the rule involves changing a sign. Second, of the
several possible paths to solution of the problem, both program and subject
f
chose an application of fi&ld 6 and two applications of Bole 1.
Alternative Solutions
t
There are, in fact, six distinct solution paths of length three,
V
all of them essentially permutations of the one used by the subject and GPS.
For, expressed in functional terms, the problem calls for three changes to
GIF #111 6
be carried out, and these can be carried out in any order (3! ** 6) 0 In
the words oi Suhll , whose protocol we will examine in a moments "You've got
to change the places of the R to the other side; and you have to change the
signs, tilde, and horseshoe to wedge; and you've got to reverse the places
problems, the solution of each of which can be recognized from the form of
the resulting expression, and each of which can be carried out with a single
3/ For references we list the six paths (where "Rx(p) fl means 8
operation.
"apply Rule x to the subexpression containing P and Q) s
FIGURE
B B
D C D
C
Cb)
FIGURE 15
Finding the Formula
for the Area of a Parallelogram
f
C\P fill
the dots, he has only a. small number of possibilit5.es before hlm^aot includ
ing any solutionso What is difficult is to answer the illdefined question;
"What can I do that I haven 1 t tried?" This question is likely to be answered
0'
order to do this, the input part of this expression must first be generated,
This is done by obtaining PvQ, then PvR, and then using RIO to put them to
gether with a dot. We will consider the sequence of RIO followed by R7 to be
tial steps, this expression is changed into a form where R7 cen b3 s and is,
applied. The path here, involving R5 followed by R7 a is sufficiently indirect
to &e regarded as a construction,, A similar construction occurs in the first
solution of B2o
Construction With Rule 9. Consider Problem A4. The goal, LO, is
PvTo The letter T occurs nowhere in the given expressions. Hence, en obvious
R8,R8,R11 19
Problem A2 (17)
R4 Rll R11R3
29
65%)
40%
R7 Rll
Problem^Cl (6)
R6 R12 R6 RIO R7
ae 12
189
89%) (67%) (58%) C86%)
47% 53% 50%
FIGURE 16
(64%)
34%
12 = R7
(41%)
Problem PI (24)
60%
R8 Rll
(67%) (9f6%)
FIGURE 16 (continued)
CIP fin
svi>jects in order to carry out the second. The evidence for this would be
that almost all subjects who carried out the first in .fact also, carried out the
i second. We will encounter eleven instances of this pehnomena in the eight
i problems. However, let us take up the problems in order.
i In Problem Al, threefifths of the subjects applied R7 to LI (after
inessential transformation), and half of these discovered the remaining steps
!
! (simplification by R8, then Rll) to solution. This is characteristic of the
I ' 4, '.
statistics for the easy probletas*
Problem A2 provides an example of linked transformations. Only half
' V
QvQ, and half of these applied R3 and R9 to obtain the solution. Since the two
it is not obvious why so few subjects found this path. It is possible that
~ P "D Q and P2Q looked so much alike as to discourage subjects from supposing
that anything could be gained by working with the two expressions together
but this explanation is entirely ad hoc.
't'3"
is the only problem in which the same term, PvQ, is put to two distinct uses
in the solution. It is used as the lefthand input to RIO after it has previous
ly been used to construct one of the inputs to R12 0 We will later present evi
dence that some subjects were det irred from "using up" PvQ by R12 because they
could see that they wanted that expression as . one of the components of LO.
Problem C4 provides anther example of the R10R7 construction, where,
again, 10 out of 12 subjects who itade the former transformation made the latter.
Half of the subjects lost the tra:U while eliminating Q and (P.Q), and only a
third of the remainder carried through the construction.
for Problem D4 shows that three principal subproblerae ere involved. The R9R11
construction can be seen in the ujoer left part of the diagram. Only half the
subjects applied R9 S but all of tbisse went on to apply Rll. A large fraction of
strongly linkedwhere the subject was very likely operating with & plan to
carry through both steps. The data do not indicate that subjects generally
If they had done this, we would expect very low transition probabilities
through the remainder of the chain. Insteed, we see a picture of steady attri
tion, hastened at difficult steps and slowed down somexdmt between linked steps.
Interpretation by Simulation. Cur hypotheses about problem diffi
culty can be examined further by a technique similar to the ona we used with
Problem Dl. We can postulate a certain processing system, and ask which ex
pressions that system would generate for each problem, and whether it would,
will be applied to all expressions with dots as niain connectives; that in
essential rules will be applied when useful to make rules fit, and, in partic
ular, that R2 and R5 will be applied whan this will reduce the number of
tildes. We postulate that Rll and R12 will be applied to eliminate unwanted
letters, and that R7 will be applied when one of the givan expressions is of
th© form (AB)(AC). Finally, we postulate that R9 will be applied as the last
step when LO is of the form AvB, and B does not occur in the given expressions.
As the reader can verify by hand simulating It, a processor obeying
these postulates would solve all but one (Bl) of the six easiest problems (i.e.,
Al, D3, A4 Dl and C3), and none of the harder ones. It would fail with Bl
because that problem calls for using R9, and then Rll. The processor in Bl
would generate P and ~ P; to solve the problem, it would have to add QvS to
one of these expressions by R9, then cancel out the P's with Rll. It is pos
sible that the semantic interpretation of this problem ("P and not P") helped
some of the subjects to find the solution, hence it made it easier than we
r
i
that come next in order of difficulty. The processor would fail on all of the
A DIFFICULT PR03LBI: Gl
six, two (JibS and Sub9) solved both Dl and Cl, two (Sub4 and SublO) solved Dl
but not C/, and two (Sub5 and Subll) failed to solve either problem. These re
sults a" consistent with our classification of Cl as more difficult than Dl,
espec?>lly since the subjects attempted Cl after they had previously attempted Dl.
Some five main paths can ba described that have some a priori plaus
i One of the failures (Sub2) was probably caused by an error of the experi
menter in putting an expression on the board. Hence, the boxscore should prob
Sub 3
1. Eliminate s Q by R7 (Path 4)
Transform LI for R7
Consider hew to follow R7 with R4
2. Search 2line rules
3. Transform Ll for R7  R4 (Path 4)
4. Analyses result of transformation*
FIGURE 17 (a)
GIF #111 •* $
Subl on Cl X»lnes_
FIGURE 17 (b)
GIF
SubS  Cl
FIGURE 17 (c)
r
 GIF #1
SubB  Cl Lines
FIGURE 17 (d)
"
CIP
Cl
1. Observes 8 R7, E4
2 « Apply R7 to 1*1 (Path 4) L2, L3
3o Consider R12 as in Dl,
get (QR) and add P by R9 (Path 2)
4« Work backward from LO
do Search Rules
FIGURE 17 (e)
01P #111
3 a) (B4570) Get Q by
3 b) J(B72^73) Us® E9 to g&k QO B for
3 C ) (B7993) Get 0 from 1(L1) by R8
2 4o Delete Q by Rll
2 a) (S9497) Restate goal
3 b) (B98116) Get Q by R? j^(QP)
3 £c) (B117123) Get Q by R8 then
2 d) (B124125) Delete 0 by Rll
2*3 5 * De3ete Q ^ RI3L * Get 0 by R8 insj^e (illegal)
3 e) (B126135) Apply R8 within R(L1)
2 [b) (B135140) Get Q  Get P and QR, apply RlcT]
3 c) (B140175) Apply R8 inside, then R8,
1 60 Delete Q (B176180)
2 «) (B1S1 241) Delete Q by R7
2 B) (B242291) Search Rules
FIGURE 17 (f)
GIF
>fibll on Gl Lines
FIGURE 17 (g)
CIF #111
~ Cl
1. Observes
(a) Apply R8, R8, 812 ? (from Dl)
2* Apply R7 (Sath 4) &2, 1,3
3* Work backwards
Change (/vQvR) to
Us® 2line rules (R12)
(but this eliminates 0}
Search rules to change r(Ll)
4c Get (PvQ), add vR b^ R9 (variant of Path 1}
So Change (/^»QvR) to PvH)
60 Get (PvR) (Path 5}
Use 2line rules, eliminate Q
Use R8, R8, R12 M 9 1,5, L6 , L7
FIGURS 17 (h)
lo Extract P (applying R8) 9 then add (Q.R) by R9*
20 Transform r(Ll) to {Q*R), then add P by R9«
3. Extract P from I(LI), Q 0R from r{Ll), then combine
them.
4. Eliminate the extra Q by applying R7 to LI, then
regroup with R4.
5. Derive (PvQ) and PvR), then apply RIO followed by R7.
^s
Only the fifth path is operative; none of the others yield solu
3 should produce expressions from Ll» 1(L1) and r(Ll). Path 4 should produce
classes of r(Ll) asid 1{L1), but also the class of ~ P "3 R, and the two final
expressions, C?vQ)o(?vR) and LOo The expressions generated by the nine
subjects are liraitsd to thes« cless^s", with two exceptions; (1) as a re
solved the problem applied R12 to obtain (~Pr>R)j and conversely, therefore,,
all who applied that rale solved the problemc Before we investigate the
from (PvQ) and (?vR) by RIO and R7. However, SubS derived (~ P 3
without previously noticing that fact. Moreover, three of the five non
solvers (SubS, Sub10, and Subll), also discovered the R1QR7 possibility
by working backward, but did not use it successfully. Unless we can ex
plain these anomalies, our hypotheses about the source of problem difficulty
will fail. We therefore will concern ourselves first with the working
backward episodes in the protocols, with particular reference to SubS, Sub10,
and Subll. (We might observe that SubS and Subll failed to solve Problem
Dl also, hence dismiss them as "weak" problem solvers; but this would not
explain the causes of their weakness, nor why S10, who solved Dl readily,
failed on this problem.)
WorkingBackward Episodes
appears to notice that the term in (PR) that he he.3 just derived is an ap
propriate input £oa? this step. Unfortunately, at this point the experimenter
made an error in writing down an expression, and Sub2, working with the in
correct instead of the correct expressions, £&iled after persistent attempts
to apply RIO and R7, and abandoned the plan for another. 3ven allowing for
R7 to LI, then R4—but recalls from his experience with Dl the impossibility
of changing signs in LI to fit R7. Es then looks at LO, whose main con
nective, wedge, suggests Path 1 to him. This leads him to rules like 3
and 12 that cancel terms, so that he soon has derived (PvQ), (<P&), and
(~«3P). He does not have any definite plan in mind, for he then says;
with the signs in LI of Froblem Dl, he has not learned about the properties
of the equivalence class of LI. Hence, he tries for some time tc put LI
in shape fov R7. After abandoning this tack, he soon tries going backward
from LO, utati clearly?
We've got the PQ, but the PR, we still have to get.
cir tri
(PvQ) is to function as one of the inputs for RIO and thence R7, it cannot
be "consumed" as an input for R12.
A very similar piece of reasoning appears in the protocol of Subll
He discovers that R7 applied to (PvQ).(PvR) would yield LO. Comparing the
needed expression with LI, he observes:
jects, a sizeable fraction of those who applied R12 went on to solve the
problem (Figure 16). In our protocols , R12 was occasionally applied in
Both Sub2 and Sub8 appear to have applied it without previously working
backward from LO to discover that PvR was needed. However, the latter path
was the more common one for arriying at the naed for R12 But a subject
GIF $111 9U
whc noted in this way that PvR must be obtained would simultaneously note
that PvQ must be retained, hence, as we have seen, would be reluctant to
alter the latter. The argument against double functions would show up as
a failure to apply R12.
The doublefunction phenomena do not require the introduction of
any(.v basic mechanisms beyond those already contained in 6PS. Suppose that,
the problem expressions were made of wood, and the transformations accomplished
by saws and drills, then the test as described would be entirely appropriate.
A piece of wood that has been fashioned into the leg of a chair cannot also
be used in manufacturing the chair back.
Similarly, the doublefunction test is often quite relevant in chess
If a Knight is guarding a Bishop, tken it cannot simultaneously protect a
Fawn. That is to say, it can guard either» but not both in the face of a
simultaneous assault. Failure to note that a piece is overburdened by mul
tiple functions, and that in actually performing one it may become disabled
from performing the others, is a frequent source of chess blunders (or, con
versely, for the player who exploits his opponent's overburdened piece, a
source of combinations). Position A, which we have analysed extensively
in Chapter 8 illustrates the point well. Several of Black's pieces protecting
the N on his Q4 have multiple functions.
We conclude that for subjects who worked forward, the R10R7
construction made Problem Cl difficult. Such a subject would have to apply
R12 for some reason unconnected with the actual solution path (as Sub2 and
SubS did) in order to hit upon the path. For subjects working backward, th«
problem difficulty stems primarily from the double function of the sub
expression (PvQ).
Individual Differences
18, we show the initial segments of the protocols of two subjects, Sub9 and
Subll, each for two problems, Dl and Cl. (It should be kept in mind that
these include "Well, ... reminds ma of..., but" or "Well ...suggests to me,
but. 11 "I require" or "I need," "so," "drop." In Subll'a protocol, we have
"Uhhuh, let's see now," "remove," "change," and "What I can do on it."
At a deeper level, the processes of comparing LI with W are quite
different for the two subjects. In both cases, the form of LO (or possibly,
in Cl, of LO and LI) reminds Sub9 of a rule. The central problem, as he
characterizes it, is in both cases getting the letters and number of occurrences
93
Cl
LOs Pv(Q.R)
LI: (PvQ)o(QDH)
SUB9
SUBil
lets see now* Remove Hum. Let's see now. The only
all Rs, horseshoe, change the thing to remove is the horseshoe
sign of the 0 from the horse The Q is taken out of the
shoe to the tilde* change the first expression, the dot is
sign on P from tilde to a dot the major connective to change
before it* X»et c s see, the to a wedge, and the horseshoe
major connective remains the in QoR is changed to a dot.
same... it's a dot and the Let's sae« what can X do on
final expression is negative, the first expression...
with a tilde in it. I'm look
ing over the sheet . . „ see
what X can do on it.
FIGURE 18
on> #11
Subjects
SUM _ SubS
_ SubO ^ Sub9 SublO Stsbll
Expressions Writ tens
Dl 13 17 11 8 8 3
Cl 6 19 11 10 8 3
Problem Solved?
Dl X X X X
Cl 1C X
R.'ie Searches s
SI X X X X
Cl X X X X
Searches Sxpressionss
Dl v/ X V
Cl X
Persistence
a

Dl • x )
Cl X ! X
Works Backward
Bl
Cl E
1 X
X & 31
C3e&€5r © ! Character
Dl X x<latar)
I5  • • . Jt
X X Oetailc
Cl Td?
X j  v
X X Detailc
Problem Solving
FIGURE 19
As we have already remarked, four subjects worked backward from
LO in €1, and one of these, Sub9, also did so in Dl. The two subjects
who did not do this in either problem, 8ub4 and Sub3, were the same ones
who, as noted abov®, were successful in working forward in Dl.
The four subjects who worked backward also gave a characterization
of the problems at the beginnings of their protocols. Subll1 s characteriz
ation, as we saw in Figure 18, was highly particularistic. The others were
Subll concerns himself with the detail rather than the broad
structure of the problems, and spends much time in search
ing for rules he can apply, but without applying them un
less the outcome has an obvious use.
tell whether, or how rapidly, the weaker problem solvers would gradually
acquire the style of the stronger; or whether rule searches would gradually
disappear from a subject's protocols as he learned the functions and condi
tions for applicability of each of the rules. To throw some light on these
questions, we shall take up next the behavior; of SubS, for whom we have a
series of six protocols, baginning with Dl and Cl, and continuing through
problems A2', B2, A4, and 03.
U? #3.11 ,.;!.,
by commuting 12, obtaining first P*Q, then P from LI (by R4, R8 or by R8,
RIO), and then obtaining E5T, then T by Rll. Finally, R3 gives T 0 T. It is
a problem of moderate difficulty,.' We recall that B2 is a difficult prob
lem, while C3 and A4 are easy. Sub8 failed to solve A2 1 , but solved the
other three.
Changes in Style
FIGURE 20
SubS continues to generate expressions \,^.r,iug sorward tor the
first three or four problems, and to scan these expressions to determine
how to proceed, but no longer does this in the last two problems. (This
change may not represent learning, but may simply reflect the fact that the
problems were sufficiently easy that he did not have to conduct searches.)
He works backward from LO for the first time in A2', and does so in all
succeeding problems. On the last three problems, SubS characterises the
problem at the outset, and on the last two, outlines a correct plan for
its solution.
i
Summarizing these changes, we can say that SubS (1) gradually ac
quired a table of connections p or associations, between features and dif
ferences on the one hand, and rules on the other; (2) shifted from a working
fon72rc? style to a style based on abstract characterization of the main
problem features and planning.
We can also test whether this particular movie will run in reverse.
For we have protocols for Sub9 with the three practice problems. Alpha 1,
Alpha 2 9 and Alpha 3, which he attempted just before Dl (Figure 21). Will
these earlier protocols of Sub9 show any of the characteristics of SubS's
earlier behavior?
In Problem Alpha 1, Sub9 mak<ss notes on his rule sheet, indicating
the functions of the various rules: "I'd made a system out of this so I*d
know exactly what I wanted. So here . . . like on RIO I made a note here . .
that addition; in R9 I had a choice; and R4 is a group change. So in all
these I now have notes as to exactly what I can do with them . . . because
if I just started looking at these rules, it's just about a hit and miss oper
ation." Sub9 then proceeds by noticing differences^ then searching the rules
to find one appropriate for the difference.
vf fin 101
CONCLUSION
quire generalized knowledge thet certain goals can bs achieved by fixed se
quences of specific operators (e.g., go from horseshoe to dot by R6, then
R5), and that these sequences will have certain consequences (e.g., that
the sequence Just mentioned will put a tilde before an expression, or re
move one if it is already there).
To a large extent, these differences can be detected in protocols,
and used to account for the variety in style of the explorations of various
subjects. We have shown also how relative problem difficulty is related to
the presence or absence of particular cspabilities in programs 5 and her,.? the ,
solvability of a problem can be sstisiated frcni the structure of the program.
With this analysis, we complete our detailed protocol analyses, and
turn to a series of problems raised by our investigations. Sone of these
are problems., bypassed by the use of the F5G, or by informal use of literal
quotations, of how natural language is processed in problem solving activity.
Others are problems of the microstructure of the processing system and of
processes themselves. The next section of this volume will be addressed to
these problems.
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