How to Solve It

How to Solve It (1945) is a small volume by mathematician George Pólya describing methods of problem solving.[1]

How to Solve It suggests the following steps when solving a mathematical problem:

  1. First, you have to understand the problem.[2]
  2. After understanding, then make a plan.[3]
  3. Carry out the plan.[4]
  4. Look back on your work.[5] How could it be better?

If this technique fails, Pólya advises:[6] “If you can’t solve a problem, then there is an easier problem you can solve: find it.”[7] Or: “If you cannot solve the proposed problem, try to solve first some related problem. Could you imagine a more accessible related problem?”