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Irregular formation from Ancient Greek εὑρίσκω ‎(heurískō, I find, discover).


  • IPA(key): /hjuˈɹɪstɪk/, /hjʊˈɹɪstɪk/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: heu‧ris‧tic


heuristic ‎(comparative more heuristic, superlative most heuristic)

  1. Relating to general strategies or methods for solving problems.
    • 2015, Ippoliti, Emiliano; Thomas Nickles, Heuristic Reasoning[1]:
      "The heuristic appraisal is the 'identification and evaluation of hints and clues that can provide direction to inquiry in the sometimes large gap between the extremes of complete knowledge and complete ignorance'”.
  2. (computing, of a method or algorithm) that solves a problem more quickly but is not certain to arrive at an optimal solution.
    • 2002, Te Chiang Hu, Man-tak Shing, Combinatorial Algorithms[2]:
      If a heuristic algorithm works for most of the input data or its maximum percentage error is tolerable, we may prefer the heuristic algorithm to an optimum algorithm that requires a long time.
    • 2009, Clapham, Christopher; James Nicholson; James R. Nicholson, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Mathematics[3]:
      Problem solving based on experience of working with other problems which share some characteristics of the current problem, but for which no algorithm is known. Good heuristics can reduce the time needed to solve problems by recognizing which possible approaches are unlikely to be successful. George Polya brought the notion of heuristics to a wide audience through his book How To Solve It. The second edition was published in 1957 and is still in print half a century later.

Derived terms[edit]



heuristic ‎(plural heuristics)

  1. A heuristic method.
  2. The art of applying heuristic methods.