# When Reinventing the Wheel Makes Sense

##### May 18, 2022

I have a close friend of mine with whom I share (or shared) many projects and activities.

One of those activities was **mathematical olympiads**.

In those competitions, once you enter the room, you are left alone with what you already know, the problem statements, and what you can derive from those.

He’s told me that in one of those competitions he was able to discover the quadratic equation, because he needed it to solve the problem. He didn’t know about it before that.

This might not be an *amazing* feat, plenty of people have done the same, and you even learn how to derive that equation when you prove it. However, this sheds some light into his **problem solving approach**.

Indeed, this does not only happen in math competitions, where you are somewhat forced to come up with ideas with what you have.

He’s not as pushed as everybody else to “see what others are doing”. Instead, he focuses on solving the problem on his own.

This has a serious drawback, he sometimes **reinvents the wheel**. And many other times, too, he gets to a somewhat wrong or suboptimal solution.

However, he **solves the problem**.

And more importantly, he gets one extra experience point in problem solving.

Other people, can simply quickly Google the solution and be done. Those of us, don’t get the extra experience points from thinking about the problem (yet, yes, our solution can be more robust since it’s “confirmed” by somebody else).

But what happens when for the problem at hand, **no one has reached a solution?** Or when the problem is too specific to your own circumstance?

Those cases happen often. And by definition we can’t be successful applying what others have done before. Not exactly at least.

In those situations, he’s got a deep advantange: all that experience in solving problems.

Yes, his solutions can be buggy, somewhat wrong, incomplete, and whatnot.

However, he **solves the problem**.

And for the rest of us, that is the complicated part.