(algorithmic technique)

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.

Author: PEB

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Entry modified 27 February 2004.
HTML page formatted Wed Mar 13 12:42:46 2019.

Cite this as:
Paul E. Black, "heuristic", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Paul E. Black, ed. 27 February 2004. (accessed TODAY) Available from: