Visual Analogies

The analogy problems in the book Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies have fascinated me since I first encountered them in Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas column in Scientific American. Those problems involved simple strings of letters, but demonstrated that a surprisingly wide variety of problems could be devised with seemingly simple pieces.

A number of years after encountering them, I used my logo as the basis of a series of visual analogy problems. This is a revised version of that set of problems, followed by a discussion of some of the issues raised.

The essence of these problems is "doing the same thing". First we demonstrate a transformation:

[Demo example]

Then we give you another, untransformed figure:

[Demo puzzle 1]

Now, how would you do the same thing to this figure?

There are many possibilities. Some are better than others. You could put the three-dot figure in a vertical box, or you could put them in a triangle. Which is a better solution? Why?

[Demo puzzle 1]

The question of how we reach answers, and why some are better than others, is covered in the dicussion that follows the puzzle series.

Puzzle Series 1

Here's the example for this series of puzzles:

[Puzzle 1 example]

Now, with that in mind, try puzzle 1.

Last updated 4 June 2000
All contents ©1997-2002 Mark L. Irons

Next: 1-1