Methods of Heuristics

Groner, R.

This volume constitutes the edited proceedings of an interdisciplinary symposium on Methods of Heuristics, which was held at the University of Bern, Switzerland, from September 15 to 19, 1980. It was supported by the Max und Elsa Beer-Brawand Foundation. The idea to hold a symposium with this topic originated from Hans Walder, professor of law and criminalistics at the University of Bern. In organizing the symposium, the editors of the present volume were able to invite specialists from psychology, computer science, and mathematics. From their own perspective they made contributions to the central questions of the conference: What are heuristics, the methods and rules guiding discovery and problem solving in a variety of different fields? How did they develop in individual human beings and in the history of science? Is it possible to arrive at a commonly accepted definition of heuristics as the field unifying all these efforts, and, if yes, what are its basic characteristics? With regard to the last question, the final discussion revealed that there is no agreement on the definition of heuristics, not even whether such a definition is possible. However, many answers were given to the first two questions, from a variety of different viewpoints. This abundance of different perspectives made it impossible to arrange the chapters into distinct sections. We tried several criteria and failed with all of them because they created artificial borderlines, not taking into account the communalities on different levels. We finally decided for a loose succession of the articles, sometimes suggesting some common background or development through their order, but essentially leaving the task of organizing the cross-connections to the reader as a heuristic problem.

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