The germs for this course lie in a 1962 book by J. R. Platt entitled The Excitement of Science and a 1964 paper in Science on "Strong Inference" in which he espouses:
  1. devoting "a half hour or an hour to analytical thinking every day"
  2. "exhorting to self-analysis and self-improvement"
  3. keeping a bound notebook in which to record one's efforts

Art Winfree developed Platt's ideas into a course entitled "The Art of Scientific Discovery". Art felt strongly that scientific problem solving can be trained through practice at puzzle solving, followed by introspection about the struggles that went into the solution of the puzzles. In addition, Art realized that students learn by observation – of famous scientists as well as of each other. For this, "inspirational readings" and group discussions of problem solving efforts are essential parts of a course. Art's
New York Times obituary on Nov 22, 2002 mentioned the course: "In recent years, his best-known class at Arizona was the Art of Scientific Discovery, an effort to teach students to think creatively. Hard problems, Dr. Winfree said in the syllabus, are ''the equivalent of barbells for lifting.''"

My contribution, besides carrying on the effort following Art's untimely death, has been in integrating the topics into a progressive method, adding new material (e.g., that on self delusions), and working towards the creation of new formats to extend the reach of the method. I was Art's former student and guinea pig for early incarnations of the course content during the mid 1970s, and I substitute taught in Art's course. I also love problem solving and helping others to find their own ways with problem solving.