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.

Use heuristics in a sentence

  • Often times political campaign members will use heuristics to try to predict voter behavior in an upcoming election, but they are never able to guarantee a specific outcome with these studies.

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