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A few words about the Altshuller's contradiction matrix

A few words about the Altshuller’s contradiction matrix

| On 06, Aug 1997

Semyon D. Savransky (E-mail
18-21 July 1997

The contradiction matrix is one of the effective and visual tools of TRIZ. The idea of the matrix and its initial development was created and worked out by Genrich Saulovich Altshuller in the process of research of about 40,000 patents with the so-called “strong levels of solutions” in several classes of the International Patent Classification. This database was extracted from about 400,000 worldwide patents in the 1960’s and seventies . G.S. Altshuller figured out 39 types of 39 engineering parameters on the matrix’s axes “Undesired Effect” versus “Feature to Improve” and 40 types of inventive principles [1] . (See the July issue of The TRIZ Journal for illustrations of the original matrix and a tutorial on how to use it.)

This matrix well as many other TRIZ methods are in the public domain due to the goodwill of the author of TRIZ and his coworkers. Since that time this classical contradiction matrix and its elements were reproduced in various books about TRIZ with different examples and even humorous illustrations [2] . The simple software for the classical contradiction matrix can be found on the Internet (see, e.g., the WWW page with URL and this matrix was integrated in various TRIZ packages for personal computers.

The development of the matrix was continued in from the 1970’s through the present by TRIZniks in the former Soviet Union. It was shown that 40 initial principles can be squeezed to 36 independent characteristics [3] . On the other hand the Belorussian school of TRIZ added new principles, such as:

49. Dissociation-association

50. Self-organization

so the number of inventive principles was increased to fifty [4] .

A number of the engineering parameters has been also significantly increased due to the patent research in Russia, so new parameters such as “Safety” were added [5,6] . As a result the matrix was enriched by new cells and several columns and rows were added.

For example, a new cell with SAFETY (as the Undesired Effect) versus PRODUCTIVITY (as the Feature to Improve) contains principles # 10,14, 35,38, and 50; and the cell in the classical matrix cell with WASTE OF TIME (as the Undesired Effect ) versus ADAPTABILITY contains principles # 28,35,49.

TRIZniks in Odessa (Ukraine) made a statistical analysis of the matrix elements for various engineering fields [7] . Later this idea was extended to the set of industry field-dependent tensors [6] . It is worth mentioning that a matrix works only with 2 parameters, while a tensor can operate with the same or higher number of the engineering parameters so axes become multidimensional. The possibility of creating the universal tensor seems reasonable and should be worked out.

I would like to note that the inventive principles work not only in technical contradictions. It is possible to use this tool in business and education. For example, we figured out that the contradiction between a small number of the real specialists in TRIZ and a big current demand for TRIZ training on the one hand, and the native Russian language for all (editor’s note: ALL?) TRIZ experts and the international representation of people who want to know TRIZ on the other hand. We resolve these contradictions by offering hands-on TRIZ training by using the Internet as the mediator (the principle # 24) and translators as the principle # 26. [8]

Although the classical matrix is in the public domain, anybody should remember that its idea is belongs to G.S. Altshuller. Other TRIZniks can claim on the intellectual properties concerning development or illustration of the matrix but not on the matrix itself or its elements. Some other TRIZniks and I do not consider that the matrix or even the universal tensor can exist in some permanent form, because new fields of technique and engineering will enrich the contradiction matrix/tensor. I believe that TRIZ development needs the same support as other sciences through federal and international organizations.


1.G.S. Altshuller “Algorithm of Inventions” Moscow 1969, 1973 (in Russian) /will be translated in English/

2. U. Fedoseev and G. Altshuller The Contradiction Matrix and its Components: Album (in Russian) Petrazavodsk, 1984. – 42 pp. (Translated in English by Lev Shulyak, 1997, see )

3. S.D. Savransky,

4. N.N. Khomenko e.a. An additional list of the inventive principles (in Russian) 1989, 5 pp. /see also

5. S.D. Savransky, S.E.Sofronev e.a. Unpublished results 1982 -1993

6. S.D. Savransky,

7. S. Telbaum, Unpublished results 1990.

8. for information on the training class