Understanding Heuristics. Not only does it help to get you started, but it also provides a guide to your thinking processes. While an algorithm must be followed exactly to produce a correct result, a heuristic is a general problem-solving framework (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). A heuristic is another type of problem solving strategy. Heuristics are problem-solving techniques that result in a quick and practical solution. Travelling salesman problem. It is also clear from the above example that a heuristic function h(n) can be defined as the information required to solve a given problem more efficiently. Examples Simpler problem. The information can be related to the nature of the state, cost of transforming from one state to another, goal node characterstics, etc., which is expressed as a heuristic function. Profiling as a heuristic method for problem-solving might entail analyzing data to understand and resolve a problem or to look for patterns, just like a root cause analysis. In situations where perfect solutions may be improbable, heuristics can be used to achieve imperfect but satisfactory decisions. You can think of these as mental shortcuts that are used to solve problems. If the problem is abstract, try examining a concrete example. A “rule of thumb” is an example of a heuristic. Math heuristics improve problem-solving performance. Knowing a set of Math heuristics can dramatically increase your chances of solving any Math problem. An example of approximation is described by Jon Bentley for solving the travelling salesman problem (TSP): It’s like equipping yourself with a valuable toolbox to help you solve these challenging problem sums. Psychology. Example: To solve the issue of the faulty PC, a system administrator might look for similar patterns which might have led to the problem. Most heuristic methods involve using mental shortcuts to make decisions based on prior experiences. One way of achieving the computational performance gain expected of a heuristic consists of solving a simpler problem whose solution is also a solution to the initial problem. Try solving a more general problem first (the "inventor's paradox": the more ambitious plan may have more chances of success).