First Principles Thinking

Vijay Pagare
2 min readApr 9, 2021

It is breaking down of a complex problem into smaller parts, then solving those smaller parts — usually one at a time, and then integrating those solutions to make a wholistic one.

Okay, i put that heavy statement directly below the title for description purpose (ignore!)

This article/essay/whatever is just my twitter thread’s conversion into the medium format. Feel free to read the thread instead.

this is the twitter thread’s reference link

Start

  1. First Principles Thinking. What does it mean?

It means reasoning(establishing logic for something) from ground up.

2. It is breaking down of a complex problem into smaller parts, then solving those smaller parts — usually one at a time, and then integrating those solutions to make a wholistic one

3. Diagram:

break-solve-integrate!

4. A complex problem → divide into smaller parts → solve smaller parts → integrate → BOOM! (problem solved!)

5. It could be applied to any task that you are handling — especially those which seem unsolvable or hard.

6. It should be applied to make existing solutions energy efficient, faster, and better!

7. It’s a well-established approach in the scientific community and many high achieving entrepreneurs like Elon Musk use it.

8. Famous example: Elon Musk applied it to solve his rocketry problem

9. Problem: expensive rockets → why so? → solve it → result: cheaper rockets

“I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy.” Elon Musk

10. It’s a wonderful tool to understand the world. Use it for learning.

for example: ask questions like “X” happens — why? “Y” happens — why? and so on. you get the point.

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Hope this helps you in your life. Thanks for reading!

You can find me on twitter @pagarevijayy, I am open for discussions. See ya.

Meta:

keywords: reverse engineering, creativity, mental model

key people: aristotle, charlie munger, elon musk, richard feynman, others.

generally used in: physics (e.g. atomic models)

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Vijay Pagare

Software Engineer | Frontend Developer | Open for opportunities