When solving a problem, we often look at some special cases first, then try to work our way up to the general case.

It would be interesting to see some counterexamples to this mental process, i.e. problems that become *easier* when you formulate them in a more general (or ambitious) form.

## Motivation/Example

Recently someone asked for the solution of $a,b,c$ such that $\frac{a}{b+c} = \frac{b}{a+c} = \frac{c}{a+b} (=t).$

Someone suggested writing this down as a system of linear equations in terms of $t$ and solving for $a,b,c$. It turns out that either (i) $a=b=c$ or (ii) $a+b+c=0$.

Solution (i) is obvious from looking at the problem, but (ii) was not apparent to me until I solved the system of equations.

Then I wondered how this would generalize to more variables, and wrote the problem as: $$ \frac{x_i}{\sum x - x_i} = \frac{x_j}{\sum x - x_j} \quad \forall i,j\in1,2,\dots,n $$

Looking at this formulation, both solutions became immediately evident without the need for linear algebra (for (ii), set $\sum x=0$ so that each denominator cancels out with its numerator).