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heuristic

heu·ris·tic / hyoōˈristik/ • adj. enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves: a “hands-on” or interactive heuristic approach to learning. ∎  Comput. proceeding to a solution by trial and error or by rules that are only loosely defined. • n. a heuristic process or method. ∎  (heuristics) [usu. treated as sing.] the study and use of heuristic techniques. DERIVATIVES: heu·ris·ti·cal·ly adv.

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heuristic

heuristic A “rule of thumb”, based on domain knowledge from a particular application, that gives guidance in the solution of a problem. Unlike algorithms, heuristics cannot have proven performance bounds owing to their open-ended dependence on specific application knowledge; an example is `if the sky is cloudy then carry an umbrella.' Heuristics may thus be very valuable most of the time but their results or performance cannot be guaranteed.

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heuristic

heuristic serving to find out. XIX. irreg. f. Gr. heuriskein find; see -ISTIC.

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