# Is something without a solution a problem?

Is an inconvenience without a solution still a problem?

An example would be you are stuck in a war. You obviously cannot fix the war (safe to assume that), so would it be a problem to you, or simply an inconvenience?

To add some maths: `x + y > 0` where x > y and x is a negative number. Would this be a problem?

• I'd say that problems without solutions are the only real problems. If a problem has a solution, it's no longer a problem. Making breakfast out of eggs, cheese, and bread is not a problem. Feeding the world's population is a problem. Mar 27, 2014 at 20:54
• @user4894 I think what Jeroen Bollen meant is "there is no solution" while what you have meant is "there is no known solution". Dec 11, 2015 at 15:57
• actually it is a problem if you do not survive. My high school mate did jump and shute did not open and he did hit the ground and survive to this day and that was in the late 70s. an unexpected outcome (hidden solution). Feb 23, 2022 at 2:41

I think you are just redefining things, the problem still exists

in your example, you seem to have a problem that you can't solve, but the problem itself is solvable ( just not by you )

its like having the problem 2+2 = ??

and you can't solve it, so you say, pffff, math is inconvenient. The problem still exists, and has a solution, but its just you have decided not to care about it / reclassify it.

Now this is different from a problem that provably has no solution. Like "the halting problem" and leads into Gödel's incompleteness theorems. You may regarded it as inconvenience, but in essence it defines a 'limitation' of what one can know.

• That just sounds like answering the question with 'every problem has a solution', so I can assume something which hasn't, isn't a problem? Mar 23, 2014 at 20:59
• no, there are problems without solutions. like the stated example, the halting problem. Mar 23, 2014 at 23:21

We can make a broad and sweeping general description of what a problem is: There is some way you'd like the world to look. The world does not look like that currently, and you are not sure what to do to make the world more like you want it to be.

The thing is, if faced with an alternative to the current world, you can rate it better or worse.

Problems are all those things that you can imagine or create a world which is better because of the existence of a solution.

This makes even unsolvable things like the Halting "Problem" into problems, just look at computer science discussion forums that sport a "What would you do with an infinitely fast computer?" thread.

An example would be you are stuck in a war. You obviously cannot fix the war (safe to assume that), so would it be a problem to you, or simply an inconvenience?

I may be able to help by answering the analogy of your question.

From the movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, General Kuribayashi truly did have compassion for the issues that Japan caused with the United States [he has visited the U.S. a many of times] by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As in the movie, as soon as he got on the Island, he walked it to see what he could do for an already lost battle which he sacrificed himself for with his men... there was no way for Japan to save Iwo Jima from the United States.

To add some maths: x + y > 0 where x > y and x is a negative number.

Also, with the math side, a negative number is still on the number line, so it may not work out on the positive side of "idealism" but, there is still an answer to it.

How does the situation change if, let's say, you are sky diving. You jump out of the plane and realize that neither one both of your chutes will open, do you have a problem? I think you do not have a problem because there is no solution: you are going to die, 99.999%. I don't know what to call it but "problem" just doesn't seem to fit.

• Here is my question: if there is no obvious solution to a problem, does describing the condition as a "problem" leave an inadequate description of the condition the skydiver finds himself in? Dec 12, 2015 at 6:09