Can you solve the “Railway Ride Problem?”
“issues/items or data which can have no effect on outcome or the solution and often by their very inclusion lead to confusion and misinterpretation”.
The repeat deletion of #complexternalities can often lead to greater clarity, perspective and in some cases result in the compilation and formulation of better questions geared to solving the ultimate problem in the first place.
Here is an example of this illustrated in “The Railway Ride”
You set out on a subway ride with the objective of traveling from starting railway station A and finishing at railway station E. You thus have two travel options
1) Take the Blue line all way to C then change for Red line to E
2) Take the Blue line to B, change for Yellow line to D, then change again for Red line to E.
So, how would you best get from A to E?
Which of these options would you choose and why?
Note: Assume no time is lost and that no inconvenience is suffered by changing trains as connecting trains are always available. Below is the train map illustrating the above:
OK. A fact of this problem is that the trip from A to B is mandatory whichever route we take and is also therefore a #complexternality. Let’s remove it and reconsider the problem:
This changes things. The question now can be reformulated as: How do I get from B to E? But wait a minute!: We can remove another #complexexternality as it is obvious also that however we get from B to D, we must subsequently travel between D and E our final destination on the Red line. When we remove this complexternality , a completely different picture emerges:
Now we can see the “problem” in a totally different light and additionally are now asking the correct question: How would you best get from B to D?
Seems a bit more straightforward to arrive at a solution now, doesn’t it?
Feel free to comment on and share this article if you would like.
FYI: The “Railway Ride” was inspired by my experiences on New York City Subway system trains 7, 4, and G trains.
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