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Monday، 23 October 2017
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"Algorithms" or "Heuristics"? Problem solving strategies

Negin Najjar Azali.JPGWe imagine and recognize spatial environment by critical exploration of our everyday spatial behavior, which influence on the cognitive representations of knowledge and information in real-world. Nowadays environmental psychologists and also phenomenologists believe that these spatial concepts and configuration, which make a place, must fit with the way human minds work. In this context, how we visualize the place from different aspects such as semantic or rational, have an integral sense on our brains.

Imagine a Russian woman sees a bamboo for the first time during her life, and she doesn’t have any background about it, nor in magazines or on television. What is the unique name for this concept in Russian womans cognition? What would she call this weird object? According to how our mind works and its cognitive processes, the most similar metaphor in this example is the word of “tree”, not any other metaphor such as “trunk”, “home” or… . If you ask her to show you the “bamboo”, she will get confused. Yet, because there is no concept of “bamboo” for her. As stated Schrieber (2016), if human lose his concepts and metaphors he will lose everything and every knowledge. Without concepts and metaphors to stimulate them, no one ever get anything to do or go (Trim, 2006). Nevertheless, concepts can hurt as much as they help. Wrong metaphors lead our cognition to find wrong concepts and wrong concepts lead us to manage knowledge in a wrong manner. In this sense, it is fundamental to actively keep the mind open to make room for evolving concepts.
As a matter of fact, our mind use algorithms and heuristics approach to deal with problems and find a solution. The algorithm is logical and methodical and step by step procedures. They follow a rational sequence of actions and decisions, which guarantee an eventual solution. Though they may be slow to work through. Vice versa of this, heuristics are mental shortcuts and simple strategies that allow us to deal with problems in an immediate manner. Although heuristic are practical, but they are more error more prone than algorithms and not guaranteed to be perfect. These mental shortcuts accelerate our cognitive process.
Again, imagine our Russian friend finds herself in a strange city such as Mumbai, Tabriz, Stockholm or anywhere else, she hasn't been before. She is looking for a restaurant. On this occasion, she starts to search and look in each street of these cities and check all of the places. She moves up and down between accesses. Although this process takes a long time, but at the end, logically she finds the restaurant. However, if she chooses the heuristic approach, first of all, based on her knowledge about cities, immediately she looks for a place, which is crowded and people gathered together, then she will trust on her five senses. This heuristic manner, may work faster to find your place, but it needs overlooking. In contrast we dont have such a problem in algorithmic approaches. To sum up, nor algorithmic or heuristic are not better than the other one, but both of them are problem solving strategies that involve a plan of attack in our cognition about place and space.

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