CS 108 - Problem Solving

Fall 2000

You can't solve a problem? Well, get down and investigate the present facts and its past history! When you have investigated the problem thoroughly, you will know how to solve it. Conclusions invariably come after investigation, and not before. Only a blockhead cudgels his brains on his own, or together with a group, to "find a solution" or "evolve an idea" without making any investigation. It must be stressed that this cannot possibly lead to any effective solution or any good idea.

- Mao Tse-tung, Oppose Book Worship
May 1930

Table of Contents

Course Description

This an introductory course on problem solving techniques.


This course has two objectives. The first is to establish a four-step procedure for problem solving:

  1. Analyze the problem.

  2. Develop and explore possible paths to a solution.

  3. Select and follow one of the paths.

  4. Analyze the solution.
The second course objective is to develop and examine several techniques for carrying out each step in the procedure; see the syllabus for details.


R. Clayton, Howard B-13, rclayton@monmouth.edu, 732 263 5522. Office hours are Monday noon to 1 p.m. and Wednesday 11 a.m. to noon in my office. I'm also usually happy to talk to you any time you can catch me; setting up an appointment is recommended, see my schedule for details.


Grading is straightforward: if you regularly show up for class, you get a B; if you don't regularly show up for class, you get an F. In addition, if you regularly participate in class discussion, you'll get an A, but you're not obligated to do so if you're satisfied with a B.



There is no textbook for this course. However, the problem solving framework around which this course is organized is taken from How to Solve It by George Polya, Princeton University Press, 1971.


You should feel free to send me e-mail. Unless I warn you beforehand, I'll usually respond within a couple of hours; if I don't respond within a day, resend the message.

Home page

If you're reading this on paper, you can find the class home page at http://www.monmouth.edu/rclayton/f00-108/index.html.



People who need assistance or accommodations above and beyond what is usually provided in class should contact the University's ADA/504 coordinator to get those needs met. See me or the Disability Services page for more details.


Class attendance is mandatory; your grade is based on attendance. Repeated, unexcused absences from class will result in failing the class.

This page last modified on 7 September 2000.