Search Compensates for Lack of Knowledge

Problem solving can sometimes be modeled as a search problem i.e. we can restate the problem as looking for the answer in the among all candidate answers. For example, solving a jigsaw puzzle can be restated as "Which among all the possible arrangements of pieces do the pieces fit together to form the picture?". The set of "all possible arrangements of pieces" is our solution space and we need to search that space for the correct arrangement.

Sometimes we don't know how to solve the problem, so we use trial-and-error; we try out a solution at random and see if that solves our problem. Search long enough, try enough number of pieces and you will eventually put together the puzzle. This is what is meant by Search Compensates for Lack of Knowledge.

The converse is also applies: Knowledge Compensates for Lack of Search. If you cannot or don't want to spend most of your time searching, you need to search smarter. Which piece fits this piece? You then only try pieces that might fit. What color is this part of the puzzle? If you know this part of the puzzle is blue, you only try blue pieces.

Restated to apply to a larger domain:

  • If you don't have the talent, work harder.
  • If there's too much work, work smarter.

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