Word Ways


George Polya's seminal work "How to Solve it" describes general methods for approaching and solving mathematical problems. The book begins with Polya's four principles for solving a problem: understand the problem, make a plan, carry out the plan, and look back. Much of the remainder of the book is devoted to an encyclopedic listing of different heuristics for use in mathematical problem solving. Polya's work can also be applied in problem solving settings outside of mathematics. For example, to clarify the role of his four principles in tackling a new problem, Polya explores the following non-mathematical question: what single English word can be formed by rearranging all the letters in "dry ox tail in rear"? In a similar vein, this paper will explore applications of problem solving strategies in tackling another problem from outside of mathematics; namely, that of finding words in a Boggle-like game.