How To Solve It by G. Polya. Garden City. 1957. Anchor/Doubleday. A93. 253 pages. Cover by George Giusti.Typography By Edward Gorey.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

Heuristic - the study of the methods and rules of discovery and invention - has until our time been a largely neglected, almost forgotten, branch of learning. The disputed province of logic or philosophy or psychology, it tries to understand the process of solving problems and its typical mental operations. Today heuristic is undergoing a revival whose impetus *’ is provided largely by Professor G. Polya’s unique HOW TO SOLVE IT, the outstanding modern contribution to the study of problem solving. Though Professor Polya, an eminent mathematician, uses specific examples taken largely from geometry, his principal aim is to teach a method which can be applied to the solution of other problems, more or less technical. The particular solution of a particular problem is, for his purposes, of minor importance. The approach used in heuristic reasoning is constant regardless of its subject, and can be expressed in simple but incisive questions: ‘What is the unknown? What are the data? What is the condition? Do you know a related problem?’ Deftly, Polya the teacher shows us how to strip away the irrelevancies which clutter our thinking and guides us toward a clear and productive habit of mind. The ‘Short Dictionary of Heuristic’ included in How TO SOLVE IT supplies the history, techniques, and terminology of heuristic with brilliant precision, and there is a concluding section of nineteen Problems, Hints, and Solutions.

George Pólya (December 13, 1887 – September 7, 1985) was a Hungarian mathematician. He was a professor of mathematics from 1914 to 1940 at ETH Zürich and from 1940 to 1953 at Stanford University. He made fundamental contributions to combinatorics, number theory, numerical analysis and probability theory. He is also noted for his work in heuristics and mathematics education.