The trial and error method is used most successfully with simple problems and games and is often considered the last resort when no apparent rule applies. This does not mean that the trial and error method is inherently careless because an individual can be methodical in manipulating the variables to sort through possibilities that could result in success. Nonetheless, this method is often used by people who have hardly any knowledge of the problem area. The trial and error method has always been studied from a computational point of view.
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It offers a number of features:
- Solution-oriented: Trial and error does not make an attempt to discover why a solution works, merely that it is a solution.
- Problem-specific: Trial and error do not make an attempt to generalize a solution to other problems.
- Non-optimal: It can generally be an attempt to find a solution, not all solutions, and not the best solution.
- Requires little knowledge: Experiments can be conducted and observations can be made without any knowledge of the same.
It is possible to use this method to find all solutions or the best solution to a problem when a finite number of possible solutions exist given that they can be experimentally proven. To find all solutions, the person can make a note and continue, rather than ending the process, and when a solution is found until all solutions have been tried. To find the best solution, one must find all the solutions by the instructional method described above and then comparatively evaluate them on the basis of some predefined set of criteria, the existence of which is a condition for the possibility of finding one single best solution.
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