Definition: An algorithm to solve an optimization problem that runs in polynomial time in the length of the input and outputs a solution that is guaranteed to be close to the optimal solution. "Close" has some well-defined sense called the performance guarantee.
See also ρ-approximation algorithm, absolute performance guarantee.
Note: From Algorithms and Theory of Computation Handbook, page 34-17, Copyright © 1999 by CRC Press LLC. Appearing in the Dictionary of Computer Science, Engineering and Technology, Copyright © 2000 CRC Press LLC.
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Entry modified 17 December 2004.
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Cite this as:
Algorithms and Theory of Computation Handbook, CRC Press LLC, 1999, "approximation algorithm", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Vreda Pieterse and Paul E. Black, eds. 17 December 2004. (accessed TODAY) Available from: https://www.nist.gov/dads/HTML/approximatin.html