Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (triz)

Table 1. Levels of Inventiveness

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Table 1. Levels of Inventiveness.


Degree of inventiveness

% of solutions

Source of knowledge

Approximate # of solutions to consider


Apparent solution


Personal knowledge



Minor improvement


Knowledge within company



Major improvement


Knowledge within the industry



New concept


Knowledge outside the industry





All that is knowable


What Altshuller tabulated was that over 90% of the problems engineers faced had been solved somewhere before. If engineers could follow a path to an ideal solution, starting with the lowest level, their personal knowledge and experience, and working their way to higher levels, most of the solutions could be derived from knowledge already present in the company, industry, or in another industry.

For example, a problem in using artificial diamonds for tool making is the existence of invisible fractures. Traditional diamond cutting methods often resulted in new fractures which did not show up until the diamond was in use. What was needed was a way to split the diamond crystals along their natural fractures without causing additional damage. A method used in food canning to split green peppers and remove the seeds was used. In this process, peppers are placed in a hermetic chamber to which air pressure is increased to 8 atmospheres. The peppers shrink and fracture at the stem. Then the pressure is rapidly dropped causing the peppers to burst at the weakest point and the seed pod to be ejected. A similar technique applied to diamond cutting resulted in the crystals splitting along their natural fracture lines with no additional damage.

Altshuller distilled the problems, contradictions, and solutions in these patents into a theory of inventive problem solving which he named TRIZ.

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