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Related to heuristic: Heuristic algorithm


1. (of a method of teaching) allowing pupils to learn things for themselves
a. Maths Science Philosophy using or obtained by exploration of possibilities rather than by following set rules
b. Computing denoting a rule of thumb for solving a problem without the exhaustive application of an algorithm



(1) Heuristic methods of solving problems are usually contrasted to formal methods of solution, which are based on exact mathematical models. Heuristic methods, or heuristics, require less time than do methods involving an exhaustive, undirected search of all possible alternatives. Solutions obtained by heuristic methods are generally not optimal; they merely belong to the set of permissible solutions. The employment of heuristic methods does not always lead to the achievement of the goal set. In psychological and cybernetic literature, the term “heuristic” is sometimes applied to any method aimed at reducing the checking of alternatives or to inductive methods of problem solving.

(2) With respect to the organization of the process of productive creative thought, the term “heuristic” is sometimes applied to the mechanisms innate in man by means of which procedures for the solution of problems are engendered. Examples are mechanisms used to establish relations between elements of a problem situation, to eliminate unpromising approaches, and to form refutations with counterexamples. Such mechanisms, which in their aggregate define the metatheory of the solution of problems involving creative thought, are universal in character and independent of the specific problem being solved.

(3) Heuristic programming is a special method of programming for computers. In ordinary programming the programmer expresses a prepared mathematical method of solution in a form comprehensible to the computer. In heuristic programming, however, he attempts to formalize the intuitively understood method of problem solving that he believes a human being would use in solving problems similar to the one at hand. Like heuristic methods, heuristic programs do not necessarily ensure that the goal set will be attained or that the result will be optimal.

(4) The branch of the science of thought that studies heuristic mechanisms or procedures is known as heuristic. Its main subject is creative activity (seeCREATIVITY), and its principal problems involve models for decision-making in nonstandard problem situations, for seeking that which is new to a person or society, and for structuring descriptions of the external world through classifications like the periodic table of the elements or C. Linnaeus’ system for plants and animals. The science of heuristic draws on psychology, the theory of artificial intelligence, structural linguistics, and information theory.

(5) The term “heuristic” is sometimes applied, particularly in the Soviet literature, to a special method of teaching (Socratic method) or of group solution of problems. Heuristic teaching, in this sense, consists in asking the students leading questions and providing the students with suggestive examples. This method of instruction dates back to Socrates. In the group method of solving difficult problems known as brainstorming, creative thought is stimulated through freewheeling discussion. When a group member suggests an idea for a solution, the other members supply leading questions, examples, and counterexamples.


Poiya, D. Matematika i pravdopodobnye rassuzhdeniia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1975 (Translated from English.)
Pospelov, D. A., and V. N. Pushkin. Myshlenie i avtomaty. Moscow, 1972.
Pushkin, V. N. Evristika—nauka o tvorcheskom myshlenii. Moscow, 1967.
Upravlenie, informatsiia, intellekt (collection of articles). Moscow, 1976.



A rule of thumb, simplification, or educated guess that reduces or limits the search for solutions in domains that are difficult and poorly understood. Unlike algorithms, heuristics do not guarantee optimal, or even feasible, solutions and are often used with no theoretical guarantee.




A method of problem solving using exploration and trial and error methods. Heuristic program design provides a framework for solving a problem in contrast with a fixed set of rules (algorithmic) that cannot vary.
References in periodicals archive ?
However, newer methods of heuristic scanning such as generic detection produce false positives less frequently.
An eminent educationist has pointed out that the object of the heuristic method is "to make pupils more exact, more truthful, observant and thoughtful to lay this solid foundation for future self-education and to encourage this growth of spirit of enquiry and research.
Evidence of heuristic use: Both the sketches and the descriptions were assessed for heuristics provided in the set that were evident in the participants' concepts.
More generally, the study of ecological rationality has identified general conditions under which fast and frugal heuristics, such as the hiatus heuristic, perform well or less well (Katsikopoulos, 2011).
The second of these are the factors related to the heuristic function: he showed that consistent and admissible heuristics prevent the pathology.
Casey and Thompson (2003) investigated the efficiency of these four heuristic orderings (i.
Collected data and its interpretation serves as a basis for forming of the heuristic approach and is not directly focused on scientific contribution.
Knowing the heuristics that guide people's moral actions can be of help in designing change for the better.
The book's goal "is to identify the biases, heuristics, and cognitive allusions that affect decision-making and negotiation.
The four heuristics that were compared are: 1) the clustering heuristic is based on a set of techniques adapted to our problem from the cluster analysis literature 2) the bin-packing heuristic is analogous to the best-fit-decreasing bin-packing algorithm 3) the GASPP (Genetic Algorithm Shortest Path Problem) heuristic is a sequencing genetic algorithm that uses a shortest-path algorithm for fitness evaluation.
By determining which heuristics predicted a loan would suffer a loss, which heuristics predicted it would not, and how the heuristic rules interact and work together, it is possible to see how well the heuristics were used to predict loan performance.
Doubling the minimum spanning tree gives a factor-2 approximation whenever the graph observes the triangle inequality, while the local improvement k -opting heuristic can yield a tour which is arbitrarily worse than optimal.