Meaning of Heuristics

What is Heuristics:

The set of techniques or methods to solve a problem is known as heuristics. The word heuristic is of Greek origin εὑρίσκειν which means "find, invent."

Heuristics is seen as the art of inventing by human beings, with the intention of seeking strategies, methods, criteria that allow solving problems through creativity, divergent or lateral thinking.

Also, it is stated that heuristics are based on the individual's own experience, and on that of others, to find the most viable solution to the problem.

For example, heuristics can be seen as a theory that stimulates the thinking of the individual in charge of analyzing all the materials collected during an investigation.

In this sense, it can be affirmed that it is related to decision-making in order to solve a problem, without ensuring that the option taken is the most suitable.

Now, heuristics as a scientific discipline, and in its broadest sense, can be applied to any science in order to develop means, principles, rules or strategies to help find the most effective and efficient solution to the problem analyzed by the individual. .

There are several heuristic procedures that are divided into:

  • Heuristic principles are those that establish suggestions to find the ideal solution to the problem.
  • Heuristic rules are those that indicate the means to solve the problem.
  • Heuristic strategies are those that allow organizing the compiled materials or resources that contribute to the search for the solution of the problem.

As such, the term heuristic can be used as both a noun and an adjective. As a noun, it refers to the science or art of discovery, considered as a discipline that has the character of being investigated.

Now, in the case of being used as an adjective, it indicates the principles, the rules and the ideal strategies to find the solution to the problem.

Heuristics was a term used by Albert Einstein in the publication on the photoelectric effect, in the article entitled, translated into Spanish, "On a heuristic point of view concerning the production and transformation of light", whose publication he awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

Heuristic method

It is the set of methods and techniques that are used in order to find and solve a problem in those cases where it is difficult to find an optimal or satisfactory solution.

For this reason, in scientific disciplines the heuristic method is usually used in order to achieve the best result in the face of a specific problem.

Heuristics exists since ancient Greece, however, this term was popularized by the mathematician George Pólya, in his book "How to solve it", in which he explains the heuristic method to his mathematics students, and to all those who wish to learn from the discipline , citing four examples:

  • If you can't understand a problem, draw an outline.
  • If you can't find the solution, pretend you already have it and see what you can deduce from it (reasoning in reverse).
  • If the problem is abstract, try looking at a concrete example.
  • Try to tackle a more general problem first and review.

For his part, the philosopher and mathematician Lakato, established that heuristics is a set of methods or rules that can be positive or negative, which indicate which are the ideal actions that can generate solutions to the problem.

In his research scientific program work, Lakato indicated that every program has a structure that can serve as a guide in a positive or negative way.

In relation to the above, the positive heuristic is one that establishes the guidelines for how to develop a research program.

Instead, the negative heuristic of a program indicates what cannot be changed, or modified, known as the central core.

For example, in computing, heuristics consists of finding or building algorithms with good speed to be executed, such as computer games or programs that detect whether an email is an email. spam or not.

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