Genrih Altshuller (1926-1998)

Kalevi Rantanen, TRIS Oy

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Updated 16 october 1999

About the life and work of Genrih Alsthuller

Genrich Saulovich Altshuller, the founder of TRIZ, was born on October 15, 1926 in
Tashkent in the former USSR. He lived and worked mainly in Baku, there he graduated
the Institute of Oil and Chemistry.

In 1946 Altshuller formulated the hyphothesis that technological systems evolve according
to certain patterns that can be understood and purposefully used to solve problems. It
was the beginning of the new theory that later got the name TRIZ - the Theory of Inventive
Problem Solving. Nearly immediately he realized that to solve the problem one needs to
clarify and resolve the technical and engineering contradiction. Some trends (for
example transition to the super-system), principles (for example, parameter changes) and
effects (for example, strong oxidants) were found. However, any "algorithm" or the step-
by-step guide for problem solving didn´t yet exist.

In 1948 Altshuller and his colleague, former schoolmate Rafael Shapiro, wrote a letter
to Stalin. A long letter contained propositions for the improvement of inventive work
in the USSR. The result was that they were sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment.
Altshuller was arrested in 1950. Actually he lived in prisons and camps about four years.
During the imprisonment Altshuller continued to work on the problems of creativity. He
writes: "In Vorkuta years the first "algorithm" was developed. More exactly - in the
winter 1952-1953, when I got a chance to work with TRIZ intensively."

After the death of Stalin he was rehabilitated and returned to Baku in 1954. In 1956
the first paper of TRIZ, prepared in Vorkuta and then written by Altshuller and
Shapiro, was published in the journal Voprosy psihologii (Problems of Psychology).
The paper contained already many basic concepts of TRIZ: objective trends of evolution
in the technology, technical or engineering contradiction, multifunctionality, and
others. The paper contained also the first step-by-step instruction for solving inventive
problems. This set of steps was later named ARIZ-56 (Altshuller introduced the
abbreviation ARIZ in 1965).

Altshuller got married in 1956 with Valentina Zhuravlyova, who became a writer of
science-fiction after his incluence.

In 1957-1959 Altshuller conducted a number of seminars in the construction industry
of Azerbaijan. A new instruction for inventors - ARIZ-59 - resulted from this work.
An important new step was introduced: identification of the Final Ideal Result (or
the Ultimate Final Result).

In 1961 was published Altshuller´s first book on TRIZ: How to learn to invent.
Until 1968, Altshuller was the only individual teaching TRIZ. After the 1968 the
situation changed. Teams of TRIZ researchers were formed. The first informal
schools and institutes for the study of TRIZ were established, too. In the second
half of 70s about 100 schools worked in 80 cities in the former USSR.

In 1964 Altshuller developed the first table of innovative principles. In 1968 the
systematic analysis of patents had revealed 35 principles.
In 1969 Altshuller published a new book: Algorithm of Inventing.
Until 1971 additional five principles had been identified. The contradiction table or
Altshuller´s matrix was completed.

From the beginning of 70s, the continued analysis had revealed the existence of
physical contradictions behind technical or engineering contradictions. Such important
parts of TRIZ as the depository of physical effects and substance-field-analysis emerged
that time, too. The first lists of physical effects were prepared.
About 1973 Altshuller found that problems and solutions can be described with
so called substance-field formulas.

In 1975 Altshuller published ARIZ-75 and two years later ARIZ-77. The definition of
physical contradiction was included into the "algorithm". ARIZ worked now together
with the patterns or trends of evolution, substance-field-transformations and
compiled guides of effects.

In 1970s Altshuller begun to develope standard solutions of inventive problems.
In 1977 existed 10 standards, in 1985 was published the system of 76 standards.

In 1979 Altshuller published the book Creativity as an Exact Science. This book
is often considered Altshuller´s magnum opus. It was translated into English in
1984. In 1986 was published yet one book of Altshuller on TRIZ - To Find Idea.

Altshuller worked intensively with children, too. From 1974, during 12 years, he
published materials on TRIZ in the children´s journal Pionerskaja Pravda. Pieces
of theory and exercises were published 50 times. Altshuller got 190 000 letters
from children. On the basis of this work he wrote the book And Suddenly the Inventor
appeared (published in Russian 1984, translated to English in 1996).

A large and important part of Altshuller´s work was the development of creative
imagination. He elaborated a unique cataloque of phantastic ideas (from 1964),a
phantasy scale, phantograms, size-time-cost-operator, mental screens and the
model of miniature dwarfs.

Altshuller wrote also science-fiction with the pen name H. Altov. He used TRIZ to
get new literary ideas.

About 1985 Althshuller completed his work on TRIZ. ARIZ-85 and the system of 76
standard solutions were published. Both these documents has been translated into
English in 1999. Altshuller´s students and followers: Vladimir Gerasimov, Semyon Litvin,
Valeri Tsurikov, Boris Zlotin, and others, continued to develope TRIZ.

Altshuller himself directed his efforts in the new area - the "Life Strategy
of the Creative Person". On that topic Altshuller published, together with Igor
Vertkin, his last book "How to Become a Genius", in 1994.

In 1989 was established The TRIZ Association (the Russion abbreviation is MATRIZ) with
Altshuller as President.

In 1990s TRIZ got popular in the US, Germany, Japan and many other countries. The new
theory is now developed and practiced throughout the world.

Altshuller died on September 24, 1998, in Petrozavodsk, Karelia.

The activities of Altshuller

The main fields that Altshuller elaborated:

Altshuller´s school

Altshuller established a strong school of TRIZ experts. Vladimir Gerasimov and Semyon
Litvin have developed many branches of TRIZ. They have added to TRIZ effective tools
of problem statement: Trimming Technique, Feature Transfer technology, and others.
ARIZ was developed further (ARIZ-91 and ARIZ-SMVA91 in 1991, later versions are
developed in different companies).
Valeri Tsurikov begun develope computer support for TRIZ in 1970s. Commercial software
appeared in the beginning of 1990s.

The Altshuller Institute was established in the USA in 1998.

Altshuller´s last communique (September 1998) contained the list of candidates to receive
the diploma of TRIZ master. The list included 65 names.

More about Altshuller and his school

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