Posted on : 2011-08-10

The word ‘heuristic’ is taken directly from the Greek verb, *heuriskein* which means ‘to discover’. In Mathematics, there are usually different ways to go about solving problem sums. These ways or methods are known as heuristics.

Heuristics can be divided into 4 main types, which will be covered in this 2-part article.

**One: Giving a representation**

· Pupils can transform word problems into pictorial representations and represent information with a diagram/model. This skill helps pupils to understand the question better when they see the visual representation of the word problems.

· A systematic list should be made for word problems that require pupils to identify patterns such as repeated numbers or a series of events that repeat. This skill helps pupils in identifying patterns easily as the list organises all possible answers systematically.

Example:Michele saved $150 on the first month. On the second month, she saved $60 more than the first month.
On the third month, she saved $70 more than the second month. On the fourth month, she saved $55 more than the third month. How much did she save in four months?
Making a list: 1st month → $150 2nd month → $150 + $60 = $210 3rd month → $210 + $70 = $280 4th month → $280 + $55 = $335 Total amount saved =
$150 + $210 + $280 + $335
= She saved |

**Two: Making a calculated guess**

Example:
Jenny has a total of 7 dogs and parrots. The animals have 20 legs altogether.
How many dogs does she have?
Using the ‘guess and check’ method,
She has
3 dogs. |

· The ‘look for patterns’ method is usually used by pupils when they have to identify a certain pattern in a number sequence.

Example:
Solution: Making a list of possibilities:
12 - 4 + 5 = 13
11 - 9 + 16 = 18
16 - 12 + 3 = 7
The value of X is
7. |

*Written by Gui Yan Tong*

Check out the series "Use of Heuristics in Problem Solving" by EPH and have more practice on the different types of heuristics |

**Extra!**

**For more pointers on Model Drawing and Guess and Check, check out these related articles at the Popular Community:**