heuristic

A heuristic is a rule or method that helps you solve problems faster than you would if you did all the computing. It sounds fancy, but you might know a heuristic as a "rule of thumb."

Derived from a Greek word that means "to discover," heuristic describes a rule or a method that comes from experience and helps you think through things, like the process of elimination, or the process of trial and error. You can think of a heuristic as a shortcut. Besides finding it in philosophy books, if you are interested in computing, you'll find references to heuristic programming. You can use it as a noun or as an adjective.

Definitions of heuristic
  1. noun
    a commonsense rule (or set of rules) intended to increase the probability of solving some problem
    synonyms: heuristic program, heuristic rule
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    types:
    lateral thinking
    a heuristic for solving problems; you try to look at the problem from many angles instead of tackling it head-on
    type of:
    formula, rule
    (mathematics) a standard procedure for solving a class of mathematical problems
  2. adjective
    of or relating to or using a general formulation that serves to guide investigation
    Synonyms:
    trial-and-error
    relating to solving problems by experience rather than theory
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    Antonyms:
    algorithmic
    of or relating to or having the characteristics of an algorithm
    recursive
    of or relating to a recursion
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