Problems arise in a variety of ways, and it is often worthwhile to
list the forms that they may take. Thus we can distinguish the
- The classical problem, which has had much effort expended upon
it, but without any acceptable solution.
- The premature problem, which often is poorly formulated, or is
not susceptible to attack.
- The strategic problem, which seeks data on which a choice may
be made between two or more basic assumptions or principles.
- The stimulating problem, which may lead to a reexamination of
accepted principles and may open up new areas for exploration.
- The statistical questions, which may be only a survey of
- The unimportant problem, which is easy to formulate and easy to
- The embarrassing question, commonly arising at meetings in the
discussion of a paper, and rarely serving any useful purpose.
- The pseudo problem, usually the consequence of different
definitions or methods of approach. Another form of pseudo
problem is a statement made in the form of a question. It also
is often the result of discussions in meetings.
It is frequently helpful to attempt to place a given problem in this
array of possibilities, for such a classification may provide a hint
as to the problem's significance, the difficulties involved in its
attack, and the sort of solution that may be expected.