Definition: An algorithm that usually, but not always, works or that gives nearly the right answer.
Specialization (... is a kind of me.)
move-to-front heuristic, Christofides algorithm, Monte Carlo algorithm.
See also metaheuristic, probabilistic algorithm, greedy algorithm.
Note: Some problems, such as the traveling salesman problem, may take far too long to compute an optimal solution. But some have good heuristics that are fast and find a solution no more than a few percent worse than the optimal.
If you have suggestions, corrections, or comments, please get in touch with Paul E. Black.
Entry modified 27 February 2004.
HTML page formatted Fri Mar 25 16:20:34 2011.
Cite this as:
Paul E. Black, "heuristic", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Paul E. Black, ed., U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. 27 February 2004. (accessed TODAY) Available from: http://www.nist.gov/dads/HTML/heuristic.html