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Solving Complex Problems with a Computational Mind: An Alternative to Heuristic Search

Juan Carlos Olabe 1, Xabier Basogain 2, and Miguel Ángel Olabe 2
1. Christian Brothers University, Memphis, USA
2. University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain
Abstract—A critical set of advances in the world of cognitive sciences during the last two decades is redefining the directions of research of cognitive processes. A set of obsolete cognitive principles has been identified and new methods and objectives have been set for the study of complex problems. We investigate in this paper one such problem in an experiment with students (n=192) from four universities in Spain. The experiment reveals that (i) students easily and reliably acquire (appropriately designed) complex algorithms and (ii) students learn and apply these algorithms in an affective state of ease. These students systematically outperformed published results in an isomorphic task (inheritance genetics). These results indicate that appropriate data encoding, explicit algorithmic definition, and the activation of human cognitive primitives is sufficient to accomplish the task.

Index Terms—heuristic search, computational thinking, object oriented thinking, information encoding, algorithmic thinking

Cite: Juan Carlos Olabe, Xabier Basogain, and Miguel Ángel Olabe, "Solving Complex Problems with a Computational Mind: An Alternative to Heuristic Search," International Journal of Learning and Teaching, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 12-19, June 2016. doi: 10.18178/ijlt.2.1.12-19
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