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Heuristic

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Involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and esp. trial-and-error methods . . . . Problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques


Heuristics, Problem-solving strategy [From: Coon, Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application]
Solving problems often requires a strategy. If the number of alternatives is small, a random search strategy may work. This is another example of trial-and-error problem solving in which all possibilities are tried. Typically, heuristics reduce the number of alternatives that a thinker must consider. In more complex problem solving, heuristics do not guarantee success, but they certainly help. Here are some strategies that often work:

Try to identify how the current state of affairs differs from the desired goal. Then find steps that will reduce the difference.

Try working backward from the desired goal to the starting point or current state.

If you can't reach the goal directly, try to identify an intermediate goal or subproblem that at least gets you closer.

Represent the problem in other ways, with graphs, diagrams, or analogies, for instance.

Generate a possible solution and test it. Doing so may eliminate many alternatives, or it may clarify what is needed for a solution.

[Coon, Dennis. Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989. Chapter: Learning & Cognition]


R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S 
Heuristic adj [G heuristisch, fr. NL heuristicus, fr. Gk heuriskein to discover; akin to Olr fo-fúair he found] [1821]: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and esp. trial-and-error methods [__ techniques] [a __ assumption]; also: of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques [as the evaluation of feedback] to improve performance [a __ computer program]

2 Heuristic n[1860] 1: the study or practice of heuristic procedure 2: heuristic argument 3: a heuristic method or procedure

[Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Springfield, MA, USA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1995.]




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