100+ Heuristics for Systems Transformations: A brief report of US Patent  Fund Study

 Tz-Chin Wei*
Central Research Institute, Tatung Co.
22 Chungshan N. Rd., 3rd Sec., Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. 

Marco A. de Carvalho, M.Sc.*
Av. Sete de Setembro 3165 - Curitiba - PR - Brazil

 Semyon D. Savransky, Ph.D.**
The TRIZ Experts
136 Hackamorte Ln., Fremont, CA 94539, USA


One of the most popular TRIZ tools is the Altshuller’s Matrix [1,2] that includes in its classical form 40 principles for resolving so-called technical or pair contradictions. These 40 principles were selected by TRIZ creator from analysis of huge number of high-level patents [2].

Less known (even for many TRIZniks from ex-USSR) are the heuristics for technical systems transformations selected from numerous design works of highly experienced engineers by A.I. Polovinkin and his co-workers [3-5,2].

It is possible to group these heuristics into following nine classes [2]:

  1. SHAPE TRANSFORMATIONS (16 heuristics)


  3. TRANSFORMATIONS IN SPACE (16 heuristics)

  4. TRANSFORMATIONS IN TIME  (8 heuristics)






It is recognized that technical design is a part of culture. Hence, engineers from different countries usually follow to dissimilar design rules and traditions. Thus, an experienced user can often differentiate, e.g., German and Japanese designs of the similar technical systems or technological processes. A.I. Polovinkin and his co-workers [3-5] have restricted their knowledge base to technique created mostly in the former USSR. Nevertheless, it seems that the heuristics for  systems transformations selected by one of the authors [2] are culture-independent. In order to test this hypothesis, we have analyzed US patents and design practice in different countries. Some results of our research are presented in this paper. We plan to publish the full version in the forthcoming book [6] or elsewhere. In order not to duplicate information that can be easily found at the Internet, we would refer the reader to the patents (especially their annotations) that are chosen to illustrate Polovinkin’s heuristics.



1.1. To use the circular, spiral, treelike, spherical or other compact shapes.

US # 4630123: Facsimile machine is made compact by using semi-circular wall in the housing

US # 3832121: Fuel injector for blast furnace

1.2. To carry out apertures or cavities in a system.

Inversion of the heuristic.***

US # 5200573 Projectile having a matrix of cavities on its surface

US # 5839505 Dimpled heat exchange tube



2.1. To exclude the most intense (loaded) (sub)system.

Automation of processes: the most loaded subsystem (human) is eliminated from the process.

US # 5528689 Telephone headset adaptor including a hearing sound tube, a speaking sound tube, a headset, a telephone ear cup and a telephone mouth cup 

2.2. To exclude a (sub)system at preservation of all former functions by the system. Due to one subsystem carries out a few functions the necessity in other subsystems disappears. To remove “super­fluous details” even at loss “of one percent of effect”.

US # 4541001 Bidirectional power FET with substrate-referenced shield

US # 5261523 Triple-strand roller chain conveyor with accumulating pallets

Kitchen multiprocessors replace mixer, grinder, cutter and other dedicated appliances.



3.1. To change traditional orientation of system in space: a horizontal one on vertical or inclined; to put on a side; to turn by a bottom upwards; to turn by rotation.

US # 3945226, Drum type top-loading washing machine

LCD monitor in portrait orientation

3.2. To use “an empty space” between subsystems (one subsystem can pass through a cavity in the other subsystem).

US # 5544313 Baton passing optimization scheme for load balancing/configuration planning in a video-on-demand computer system 

In order to reduce the traffic congestion on freeway during major festival days in Taiwan, the government set up a traffic regulation called 'vanpool' that every car should be loaded to its seating capacity when entering the freeway. This forces people to use the empty spaces in possible cars.



4.1. To transfer a fulfillment of action on other operation time. To carry out required action prior of the beginning or after closing -up of (sub)system’s work.

US # 6055609 Apparatus and method for improving bus usage in a system having a shared memory

US # 5941795 Control system for a single servo during multiple speed changes 

4.2. To proceed from the continuous submission of energy (substance) or continuous action (process) to a periodic or pulsing.

Inversion of the heuristic.

US # 5299296 Multi-function machine with interleaved job execution

US # 5439652 Use of controlled periodic illumination for an improved method of photo-catalysis and an improved reactor design 



5.1. To change a direction of rotation.

US # 5452988 Blade pitch change mechanism 

US # 6047669 Engine rotation reversal mechanism 

5.2. To replace forward (rectilinear) or reciprocation movement by rotation. Inversion of the heuristic.

US # 4134233 Sliding door for railway passenger car compartment 

US # 5692876 Hydrostatic transmission for end dog carriage drive 



6.1. To carry out the considered (sub)system and (sub)systems cooperating with it from the same material or from a material with similar properties. Inversion of expedient.

US # 5847297 Tremolo with spaced saddles for a stringed musical instrument 

US # 5986306 Thin-film transistor having a heat sink that exhibits a high degree of heat dissipation effect

6.2. To carry out an (sub)system or his(its) surface from “porous” material. To fill holes by a substance.

US # 5726464 Light emitting device using porous semi-conductor material

US # 5480827 Use of porous polycrystalline aragonite as a support material for in vitro culture of cells



7.1. To divide a driven flow (substance, energy, information) on two or several.

US # 4625747 Pressure responsive flow divider valve for servo-powered steering devices

US # 5392071 Apparatus and method for processing image data

7.2. To divide friable, liquid or gaseous (sub)system on parts.

US # 5578209 Centrifugal fluid separation device 

US # 5900046 Froth separation apparatus 



8.1. To change parameters of a (sub)system     (its elements) or environment.

US # 6079353 Chamber for reducing contamination during chemical vapor deposition for electronic device manufacture

US # 5999627 Method for exponentiation in a public-key cryptosystem

8.2. To increase (or to reduce) a number identical or similar each other of (sub)systems in the system. To change number of simultaneously working or processable subsystems (e.g., engines, instruments, etc.).

US # 5962955 Piezoelectric device for ink jet printer head 

US # 5949718 Method and system for selected source during read and programming of flash memory


In conclusion, let us note that Polovinkin’s heuristics can be used for resolution of various technical problems, especially in the framework of the Agents Method [2]. It seems interesting to include some of the heuristics for systems transformations as well as other “new” heuristics selected by one of the authors (SDS) into the extended Altshuller’s Contradiction Matrix [2]. This work is in progress now.



  1. Altshuller, G. S., 40 Principles: TRIZ Keys to Technical Innovation, Technical Innovation Center, 1997 

  2. Savransky, S. D., Engineering of Creativity: Introduction to TRIZ Methodology of Inventive Problem Solving, CRC Press, 2000****

  3. Polovinkin, A. I., Laws of Organization and Evolution of Technique, VPI, Volgograd, 1985.(in Russian).

  4. Polovinkin, A. I., Theory of New Technique Design: Laws of Technical Systems and their Applications, Informelektro, Moscow, 1991 (in Russian).

  5. Polovinkin, A. I., The ABC of Engineering Creativity, Mashinostroenie, Moscow, 1988 (in Russian).

  6. Belousov, V., Doncean, G., Plahteanu, B., Salamatov, Yu.P., Savransky, S. D., Wei, T. C., de Carvalho, M. A., et. al.  Guide for Inventors, RO-INI (to be published in 2001)*****


* Virtual TRIZ College alumni - http://www.trizexperts.net

** Corresponding Author

** Many ofPolovinkin’s heuristics have “The mirror expedient” or “Inversion of the heuristic”. For example, the heuristic 1.2. "To carry out apertures or cavities in a system" would have the following complete description: “To make an aperture or and cavity in a system, OR to exclude an aperture and or cavity from a system”. Therefore, the instruction “Inversion of the heuristic” recommends to make the converse transformation or to search in the opposite direction.  Counting all these “mirror expedients”, one can conclude that the number of heuristics is about 150 [3-5].

**** The book is available: http://www.trizexperts.net

***** The book will be available: http://www.trizexperts.net