*Notes from **Claude Shannon's tal**k on where great ideas come from*

Why does history have such limited supply of Newtons and Einsteins?

"A very small percentage of the population produces the greatest proportion of the important ideas," Shannon began, gesturing toward a rough graph of the distribution of intelligence. __"There are some people if you shoot one idea into the brain, you will get a half an idea out. There are other people who are beyond this point at which they produce two ideas__** **__for each idea sent in. __Those are the people beyond the knee of the curve."

Prerequisites: talent, training,and curiosity.** **But then the great insights don’t spring from curiosity alone, but from dissatisfaction —** **genius is simply someone who is usefully irritated. And finally: the genius must delight in finding solutions.

Presuming that one was blessed with the right blend of talent, training, curiosity, irritation, and joy, how would such a person go about solving an actual mathematical or design problem?

__Some strategies:__

- Start by simplifying:
- Encircle your problem with existing
- try to restate the question: Change the words. Change the viewpoint.... Break loose from certain mental blocks which are holding you in certain ways of looking at a problem.
- Mathematicians have generally found that one of the most powerful ways of changing the viewpoint is through the structural analysis of a problem— that is, through breaking an overwhelming problem into small pieces.
- Problems that can’t be analyzed might still be inverted. If you can’t use your premises to prove your conclusion, just imagine that the conclusion is already true and see what happens — try proving the premises instead.