(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

Go to the Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures home page.

If you have suggestions, corrections, or comments, please get in touch with Paul Black.

Entry modified 27 February 2004.
HTML page formatted Fri Feb 23 10:06:07 2018.

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