heuristics

  

Definition

Trial-and-error procedure for solving problems (or reaching an unclear goal) through incremental exploration, and by employing a known criteria to unknown factors. For example, trying to climb a fog shrouded hill by making every step an upward-step. In journalism, a well known heuristic is asking Who? What? When? Where? Why? in investigating a news story. A heuristic employs independent discovery, and relies heavily on common sense, creativity, and learning from experience. Unlike an algorithm, however, it offers no guaranty of solving any problem. From Greek 'heuriskein,' to discover. See also lateral thinking.

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