TRIZ Research Note:
Essence of TRIZ in 50 Words
   Toru Nakagawa  (Osaka Gakuin Univ., Japan)
  May 16, 2001
  [Posted: May 22, 2001]
For Japanese version (translated by T. Nakagawa) press: 

      What is the Essence of TRIZ?  This question must be most basic and important for us to teach/learn TRIZ.  There are many important principles and methods in TRIZ, such as:      Any of these, however, is too huge to be regarded as the core essence of TRIZ.  Essence of TRIZ does not exist at this level of handbook-type knowledge, but exists much deeper at the philosophy level.

     For extracting the essence of TRIZ, we should first understand the overall structure of TRIZ.  I understand [1] that

TRIZ = Methodology + Knowledge base
and TRIZ has the following three aspects:

     This view makes it clear that the essence of TRIZ should be found in the Methodology (a) and (b).

     The following is my current understanding of the Essence of TRIZ in 50 words:

Essence of TRIZ:

Recognition that
    technical systems evolve
       towards the increase of ideality
       by overcoming contradictions 
       mostly with minimal introduction of resources.

Thus, for creative problem solving, 
   TRIZ provides a dialectic way of thinking,
       to understand the problem as a system, 
       to image the ideal solution first, and 
       to solve contradictions. 

     I obtained this understanding mainly through my study of Salamatov's TRIZ textbook [2], and showed this compact statement for the first time as a slide in the presentation at TRIZCON2001 [3] and recorded it in my Editor's Note as the post-script of the TRIZCON paper in my Web site ("TRIZ Home Page in Japan").

     Let me explain this 50-words statement briefly in a top-down manner:

     First of all, TRIZ is stated to be "a recognition", in other words, "a new view" of technology (i.e. Methodology (a) mentioned above).  By sharing this recognition, or by viewing technology from this point of view, we can reach a position of tremendous scope of not only technology but also science, society, our life, etc.

     The most important recognition is that "technical systems evolve".  We see technology mainly as technical systems.  Any system is composed of a number of components (i.e. subsystems) and their relationships and may be regarded as a subsystem of its super-systems.  Every technical system evolves, i.e. changes/develops in its history.  This evolution forms huge trends containing but overwhelming individual inventions.  The evolution may appear in different phases and different ways, such as birth, expansion, integration, convolution, etc.

     Technical systems evolve "towards the increase of ideality".  This recognition is called the Principal Law of Evolution.  Ideality is defined as "Principal function/(Mass + Energy + Size)" in Salamatov [2] and sometimes as "Useful function/(Cost + Harmful function)".  These definitions are qualitative in nature.  Main recognition here is that various forms of evolution can be viewed universally as movements in the direction of increase of ideality.  This recognition forms our basis of foreseeing and developing future technical systems.

     The evolution occurs only "by overcoming contradictions".  Contradictions appear first as the gaps between demands and supplies (or current technological performances).  Such contradictions are once recognized as obstacles/barriers, are compromised somehow for a while, and then are overcome by break-through inventions.  These inventions form the micro-steps of evolution in technical systems.

     Overcoming of contradictions are achieved "mostly with minimal introduction of resources".  Easy introduction of additional resources (such as substances, energy, and size) often complicates the systems and does not solve contradictions.  It is the TRIZ' recognition that contradictions are overcome only with no or minimal introduction of resources.  This corresponds well with the law of increase of ideality.

     On the basis of the recognition stated above, TRIZ wants to provide a methodology (i.e. a way of thinking) "for creative problem solving".  This is the principal aim of developing and learning TRIZ.  Problem solving is most demanded for overcoming contradictions.  Since no solutions and no way of solutions are known beforehand for such contradictions, we have to solve them creatively.

     For creative problem solving, "TRIZ provides a dialectic way of thinking".  TRIZ provides us with a way of thinking, in its most general meaning.  Beyond various specific methods, heuristics, and tricks for problem solving, TRIZ shows us a new way of thinking.  It may be introduced as "a dialectic way of thinking" by using terminology in philosophy, according to Salamatov [2].  The main characteristics of this way of thinking are explained in the succeeding phrases, "i.e.":

     First, "to understand the problem as a system."  The objects of the problem should be regarded as (technical) systems, for which TRIZ gives deep insights as stated in the above recognition.  We should also understand that the problem itself forms a hierarchical system of problems.  With this understanding, we may have multiple and evolutionary view points of the problem and of its possible solutions.

     Second, "to image the ideal solution first."  This is of course based on the TRIZ recognition that the technical systems evolve towards the increase of ideality.  Since we know the direction of evolution, we should think of the solution image first.  We should image the ideal solution first, and then try to find the ways of achieving it, for example by tracing back to the present system step by step.  This recommends us a thinking process in the reverse direction, in contrast to the conventional way of thinking with trial-and-errors starting from the present system.

     Third, "to solve contradictions".  Dialectic logic is often referred in philosophy with "solving the contradiction between a thesis and its antithesis by introducing their synthesis", even though the actual process for achieving it has not been explained well.  TRIZ, however, has succeeded in showing concrete guidelines (especially in the form of ARIZ) to solve contradictions in technical problems.  The core process is to derive (by reformulating the problem) a Physical Contradiction (i.e., a situation where an aspect of a system is requested in one direction and in its opposite direction at the same time) and to solve it with the Separation Principle.  Once a physical contradiction is derived, this solution technique is amazingly powerful to find break-through solutions.

     We should notice that the three characteristics of the dialectic way of thinking in TRIZ correspond very well with the TRIZ' recognition of the technical systems.


[1] Toru Nakagawa: "Approaches to Application of TRIZ in Japan", TRIZCON2000: The Second Annual AI TRIZ Conference, Apr. 30 - May 2, 2000, Nashua, NH, USA, pp. 21-35. ; TRIZ Home Page in Japan, May 2000 (in English), Feb. 2001 (in Japanese).

[2] Yuri Salamatov: "TRIZ: The Right Solution at the Right Time", Insytec, 1999; (Japanese Edition) Nikkei BP, Nov. 2000.

[3] Toru Nakagawa: "Staircase Design of High-rise Buildings Preparing against Fire -TRIZ/USIT Case Study -", TRIZCON2001: The 3rd Annual AI TRIZ Conference, Mar. 25-27, 2001, Woodland Hills, CA; TRIZ Home Page in Japan, Apr. 2001 (in English & in Japanese).

Eidtor's Note (Toru Nakagawa, May 22, 2001)

    This article has just been written originally as a section of the author's paper submitted for presentation at European TRIZ Association (ETRIA) Conference  with the title of:
      " Learning and Applying the Essence of TRIZ with Easier USIT Procedure"  by Toru Nakagawa

    The conference will be held on Nov. 7-9, 2001 at Bath, UK.  Though it is usual not to publisize papers before the conference/publication, I have chosen to post a part of my paper here for the sake of readers' benefits and smoother penetration of TRIZ in the world.
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Last updated on May 22, 2001.     Access point:  Editor: