Three Levels of Problem Solving

This post by Laura McLay mentions three levels for modeling that applies to decision-making:

    • LEVEL 1: You solve the problem.
    • LEVEL 2: You solve the problem in a cost-effective manner (e.g., using heuristics to get a quick solution that is “good enough”)
    • LEVEL 3: You solve the problem in a cost-effective manner that a decision-maker will implement.

Academics spend most of their time on Level 1 and a jump to Level 2 and then Level 3 may take a few years if ever. Laura suggests: “We should sometimes start with Level 3 as the goal and work backward by rethinking what the problem is and how we solve it.”

An interesting comment was tweeted by Paul A. Rubin: “what about Level 0 (favorite of academics): you solve a problem vaguely related to the actual one?”

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