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Problem statement

A problem statement is a concise description of the issues that need to be addressed by a problem solving team and should be presented to them (or created by them) before they try to solve the problem. When bringing together a team to achieve a particular purpose provide them with a problem statement. A good problem statement should answer these questions:

  1. What is the problem? This should explain why the team is needed.
  2. Who has the problem or who is the client/customer? This should explain who needs the solution and who will decide the problem has been solved.
  3. What form can the resolution be? What is the scope and limitations (in time, money, resources, technologies) that can be used to solve the problem? Does the client want a white paper? A web-tool? A new feature for a product? A brainstorming on a topic?

The primary purpose of a problem statement is to focus the attention of the problem solving team. However, if the focus of the problem is too narrow or the scope of the solution too limited the creativity and innovation of the solution can be stifling.

In project management, the problem statement is part of the project charter. It lists what's essential about the project and enables the project manager to identify the project scope as well as the project stakeholders.

A research-worthy problem statement is the description of an active challenge (i.e. problem) faced by researchers and/or practitioners that does not have adequate solutions available including the argumentation for its viability based on solid peer-reviewed sources as well as theoretical foundation. The research-worthy problem statement should address all six questions: what, how, where, when, why, and who. On the other hand, a statement of the problem is one or two sentences claim that outlines the problem that the study addresses. The statement of the problem should briefly address the question: What is the problem that the research will address?

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed, rather than large samples.

Qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses (informative guesses). Quantitative methods can be used to verify which of such hypotheses are true.


Until the 20 1970s, the phrase 'qualitative research' was used only to refer to a discipline of anthropology or sociology. During the 1970s and 1980s qualitative research began to be used in other disciplines, and became a significant type of research in the fields of education studies, social work studies, women's studies, disability studies, information studies, management studies, nursing service studies, political science, psychology, communication studies, and many other fields. Qualitative research occurred in the consumer products industry during this period, with researchers investigating new consumer products and product positioning/advertising opportunities. The earliest consumer research pioneers including Gene Reilly of The Gene Reilly Group in Darien, CT, Jerry Schoenfeld of Gerald Schoenfeld & Partners in Tarrytown, NY and Martin Calle of Calle & Company, Greenwich, CT, also Peter Cooper in London, England, and Hugh Mackay in Mission, Australia. There continued to be disagreement about the proper place of qualitative versus quantitative research. In the late 1980s and 1990s after a spate of criticisms from the quantitative side, new methods of qualitative research evolved, to address the perceived problems with reliability and imprecise modes of data analysis. During this same decade, there was a slowdown in traditional media advertising spending, so there was heightened interest in making research related to advertising more effective. To this date the present representative concept of antropy has a way and hence fort.

In the last thirty years the acceptance of qualitative research by journal publishers and editors has been growing. Prior to that time many mainstream journals were far more likely to publish research articles based upon the natural sciences and which featured quantitative analysis, than they were to publish articles based on qualitative methods.

Distinctions from quantitative research

(In simplified terms - Qualitative means a non-numerical data collection or explanation based on the attributes of the graph or source of data. For example, if you are asked to explain in qualitative terms a thermal image displayed in multiple colours, then you would explain the colour differences rather than the heat's numerical value.)

First, in qualitative research, cases can be selected purposefully, according to whether or not they typify certain characteristics or contextual locations.

Second, the researcher's role receives greater critical attention. This is because in qualitative research the possibility of the researcher taking a 'neutral' or transcendental position is seen as more problematic in practical and/or philosophical terms. Hence qualitative researchers are often exhorted to reflect on their role in the research process and make this clear in the analysis.

Third, while qualitative data analysis can take a wide variety of forms, it differs from quantitative research in its focus on language, signs and meaning. In addition, qualitative research approaches analysis holistically and contextually, rather than being reductionistic and isolationist. Nevertheless, systematic and transparent approaches to analysis are almost always regarded as essential for rigor. For example, many qualitative methods require researchers to carefully code data and discern and document themes consistently and reliably.

Perhaps the most traditional division between the uses of qualitative and quantitative research in the social sciences is that qualitative methods are used for exploration (i.e., hypothesis-generating) or for explaining puzzling quantitative results. Quantitative methods, by contrast, are used to test hypotheses. This is because establishing content validity — do measures measure what a researcher thinks they measure? — is seen as one of the strengths of qualitative research. Some consider quantitative methods to provide more representative, reliable and precise measures through focused hypotheses, measurement tools and applied mathematics. By contrast, qualitative data is usually difficult to graph or display in mathematical terms.

Qualitative research is often used for policy and program evaluation research since it can answer certain important questions more efficiently and effectively than quantitative approaches. This is particularly the case for understanding how and why certain outcomes were achieved (not just what was achieved) but also for answering important questions about relevance, unintended effects and impact of programs such as: Were expectations reasonable? Did processes operate as expected? Were key players able to carry out their duties? Did the program cause any unintended effects?

Qualitative approaches have the advantage of allowing for more diversity in responses as well as the capacity to adapt to new developments or issues during the research process itself. While qualitative research can be expensive and time-consuming to conduct, many fields of research employ qualitative techniques that have been specifically developed to provide more succinct, cost-efficient and timely results.

Financial statement analysis

Financial statement analysis (or financial analysis) refers to an assessment of the viability, stability and profitability of a business, sub-business or project.

It is performed by professionals who prepare reports using ratios that make use of information taken from financial statements and other reports. These reports are usually presented to top management as one of their bases in making business decisions. Based on these reports, management may:

  • Continue or discontinue its main operation or part of its business;
  • Make or purchase certain materials in the manufacture of its product;
  • Acquire or rent/lease certain machineries and equipment in the production of its goods;
  • Issue stocks or negotiate for a bank loan to increase its working capital;
  • Make decisions regarding investing or lending capital;
  • Other decisions that allow management to make an informed selection on various alternatives in the conduct of its business.


Financial analysts often assess the firm's:

1. Profitability - its ability to earn income and sustain growth in both short-term and long-term. A company's degree of profitability is usually based on the income statement, which reports on the company's results of operations;

2. Solvency - its ability to pay its obligation to creditors and other third parties in the long-term;
3. Liquidity - its ability to maintain positive cash flow, while satisfying immediate obligations;

Both 2 and 3 are based on the company'sbalance sheet, which indicates the financial condition of a business as of a given point in time.

4. Stability- the firm's ability to remain in business in the long run, without having to sustain significant losses in the conduct of its business. Assessing a company's stability requires the use of both the income statement and the balance sheet, as well as other financial and non-financial indicators.


Financial analysts often compare financial ratios (of solvency, profitability, growth, etc.):

  • Past Performance - Across historical time periods for the same firm (the last 5 years for example),
  • Future Performance - Using historical figures and certain mathematical and statistical techniques, including present and future values, This extrapolation method is the main source of errors in financial analysis as past statistics can be poor predictors of future prospects.
  • Comparative Performance - Comparison between similar firms.

These ratios are calculated by dividing a (group of) account balance(s), taken from the balance sheet and / or the income statement, by another, for example :

n / equity =ROE
Net income / total assets = return on assets
Stock price / earnings per share = P/E-ratio

Comparing financial ratios is merely one way of conducting financial analysis. Financial ratios face several theoretical challenges:

  • They say little about the firm's prospects in an absolute sense. Their insights about relative performance require a reference point from other time periods or similar firms.
  • One ratio holds little meaning. As indicators, ratios can be logically interpreted in at least two ways. One can partially overcome this problem by combining several related ratios to paint a more comprehensive picture of the firm's performance.
  • Seasonal factors may prevent year-end values from being representative. A ratio's values may be distorted as account balances change from the beginning to the end of an accounting period. Use average values for such accounts whenever possible.
  • Financial ratios are no more objective than the accounting methods employed. Changes in accounting policies or choices can yield drastically different ratio values.
  • They fail to account for exogenous factors like investor behavior that are not based upon economic fundamentals of the firm or the general economy (fundamental analysis) .

Financial analysts can also use percentage analysis which involves reducing a series of figures as a percentage of some base amount. For example, a group of items can be expressed as a percentage of net income. When proportionate changes in the same figure over a given time period expressed as a percentage is known as horizontal analysis. Vertical or common-size analysis, reduces all items on a statement to a “common size� as a percentage of some base value which assists in comparability with other companies of different sizes .

Another method is comparative analysis. This provides a better way to determine trends. Comparative analysis presents the same information for two or more time periods and is presented side-by-side to allow for easy analysis..

Algorithm examples

This article 'Algorithm examples supplementsAlgorithm and Algorithm characterizations.

An example: Algorithm specification of addition m+n

Choice of machine model:

There is no “best�, or “preferred� model. The Turing machine, while considered the standard, is notoriously awkward to use. And different problems seem to require different models to study them. Many researchers have observed these problems, for example:

“The principal purpose of this paper is to offer a theory which is closely related to Turing's but is more economical in the basic operations� (Wang (1954) p. 63)
“Certain features of Turing machines have induced later workers to propose alternative devices as embodiments of what is to be meant by effective computability.... a Turing machine has a certain opacity, its workings are known rather than seen. Further a Turing machine is inflexible ... a Turing machine is slow in (hypothetical) operation and, usually complicated. This makes it rather hard to design it, and even harder to investigate such matters as time or storage optimization or a comparison between efficiency of two algorithms.� (Melzak (1961) p. 281)
Shepherdson-Sturgis (1963) proposed their register-machine model because “these proofs [using Turing machines] are complicated and tedious to follow for two reasons: (1) A Turing machine has only one head... (2) It has only one tape....� They were in search of “a form of idealized computer which is sufficiently flexible for one to be able to convert an intuitive computational procedure into a program for such a machine� (p. 218).
“I would prefer something along the lines of the random access computers of Angluin and Valiant [as opposed to the pointer machine of Schönhage]� (Gurivich 1988 p. 6)
“Showing that a function is Turing computable directly...is rather laborious ... we introduce an ostensibly more flexible kind of idealized machine, an abacus machine...� (Boolos-Burgess-Jeffrey 2002 p.45).

About all that one can insist upon is that the algorithm-writer specify in exacting detail (i) the machine model to be used and (ii) its instruction set.

Atomization of the instruction set:

The Turing machine model is primitive, but not as primitive as it can be. As noted in the above quotes this is a source of concern when studying complexity and equivalence of algorithms. Although the observations quoted below concern the Random access machine model – a Turing-machine equivalent – the problem remains for any Turing-equivalent model:

“...there hardly exists such a thing as an ‘innocent’ extension of the standard RAM model in the uniform time measure; either one only has additive arithmetic, or one might as well include all multiplicative and/or bitwise Boolean instructions on small operands....� (van Emde Boas (1992) p. 26)
“Since, however, the computational power of a RAM model seems to depend rather sensitively on the scope of its instruction set, we nevertheless will have to go into detail...
“One important principle will be to admit only such instructions which can be said to be of an atomistic nature. We will describe two versions of the so-called successor RAM, with the successor function as the only arithmetic operation....the RAM0 version deserves special attention for its extreme simplicity; its instruction set consists of only a few one letter codes, without any (explicit) addressing.� (Schönhage (1980) p.494)

Example #1: The most general (and original) Turing machine – single-tape with left-end, multi-symbols, 5-tuple instruction format – can be atomized into the Turing machine of Boolos-Burgess-Jeffrey (2002) – single-tape with no ends, two "symbols" { B, | } (where B symbolizes "blank square" and | symbolizes "marked square"), and a 4-tuple instruction format. This model in turn can be further atomized into a Post-Turing machine– single-tape with no ends, two symbols { B, | }, and a 0- and 1-parameter instruction set ( e.g. { Left, Right, Mark, Erase, Jump-if-marked to instruction xxx, Jump-if-blank to instruction xxx, Halt } ).

Example #2: The RASP can be reduced to a RAM by moving its instructions off the tape and (perhaps with translation) into its finite-state machine “table� of instructions, the RAM stripped of its indirect instruction and reduced to a 2- and 3-operand “abacus� register machine; the abacus in turn can be reduced to the 1- and 2-operand Minsky (1967)/Shepherdson-Sturgis (1963) counter machine, which can be further atomized into the 0- and 1-operand instructions of Schönhage (and even a 0-operand Schönhage-like instruction set is possible).

Cost of atomization:

Atomization comes at a (usually severe) cost: while the resulting instructions may be “simpler�, atomization (usually) creates more instructions and the need for more computational steps. As shown in the following example the increase in computation steps may be significant (i.e. orders of magnitude – the following example is “tame�), and atomization may (but not always, as in the case of the Post-Turing model) reduce the usability and readability of “the machine code�. For more see Turing tarpit.

Example: The single register machine instruction "INC 3" – increment the contents of register #3, i.e. increase its count by 1 – can be atomized into the 0-parameter instruction set of Schönhage, but with the equivalent number of steps to accomplish the task increasing to 7; this number is directly related to the register number “n� i.e. 4+n):

More examples can be found at the pages Register machine and Random access machine where the addition of "convenience instructions" CLR h and COPY h1,h1 are shown to reduce the number of steps dramatically. Indirect addressing is the other significant example.

Precise specification of Turing-machine algorithm m+n

As described in Algorithm characterizations per the specifications of Boolos-Burgess-Jeffrey (2002) and Sipser (2006), and with a nod to the other characterizations we proceed to specify:

(i) Number format: unary strings of marked squares (a "marked square" signfied by the symbol 1) separated by single blanks (signified by the symbol B) e.g. “2,3� = B11B111B
(ii) Machine type: Turing machine: single-tape left-ended or no-ended, 2-symbol { B, 1 }, 4-tuple instruction format.
(iii) Head location: See more at “Implementation Description� below. A symbolic representation of the head's location in the tape's symbol string will put the current state to the right of the scanned symbol. Blank squares may be included in this protocol. The state's number will appear with brackets around it, or sub-scripted. The head is shown as

From Yahoo Answers

Question:I'm trying to write a research paper on the disease of schizophrenia. I am having trouble finding a good example of a theisis statement, that is correct. Any suggestions?

Answers:Here are some sites that might ve able to help you: http://www.medicinenet.com/schizophrenia/article.htm What causes Schizophrenia, symptoms, and ways to treat it. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/schizophrenia.html Links to answers. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizophrenia/DS00196/DSECTION=symptoms Symptoms, and more information. Good Luck. Irina

Question:With problem sounds better for an action research topic: 1. The problem is many parents choose not to send their children to preschool before entering kindergarten. 2. The problem is many students reading below grade level by grades first and second may be at risk of a lifetime of problems if not corrected earlier. Please offer suggestion as well

Answers:i think the first

Question:I have to write a research paper on him. I can't think of any thesis statement... It has to be about how he influenced society, how people criticized him, there reflection on history, how his writings were influenced by history (especially during his lifetime, or something along those lines... I'm not going to copy yours or anything, I just want a good example.

Answers:He was also a painter,but mostly a painter with words. He was in the 1st World war and briefly interred for befriending someone who criticized the war effort by the French. He was a Harvard graduate,dad was a Doctor.He was influenced by his father.He spoke of being poetry rather than doing poetry. He believed that all artwas strictly a question of individuality. He said,"Nobody else can be alive for you;nor can you be alive for anybody else.Toms can be Dicks and Dicks can be Harrys,but none of them can ever be you."....from six nonlectures delivered at Harvard 1952-53.He was considered to be One of the greatest lyricist poets of all time.

Question:I'm doing a big paper on the negative side of Scientology. What can I talk about in it? There are things like how they take money from you and such, just wondering if anyone could help me out and possibly give me an example thesis statement? Thanks in advance.

Answers:You might start off with a working thesis, but that will probably evolve along the way. You need to do your research first. Your thesis statement grows out of the critical thinking and analysis of your research. Then brainstorm, mindmap, outline. Write the body of the essay first. Then write your intro, including the thesis statement, and your conclusion. What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement: * tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. * is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. * directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel. * makes a claim that others might dispute. * is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation. If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. The University of North Carolina Writing Center has a wonderful site that includes many of their writing handouts. These can be of great help. http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/ Good luck!

From Youtube

ACE 745: Problem Statements and Research Questions (IUP) :in this video, Dr. Gary Dean describes the basic tools for conceptualizing a research study. A formula for writing problem statements and research questions is described. Learn more about the Department of Adult and Community Education at IUP: www.iup.edu

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