Heuristic

Heuristic

hyo͝oˈristik

Noun

  • A rule or piece of information used in or enabling problem-solving or decision-making.
  • (Heuristics) The study and use of heuristic techniques.

Adjective

  • Enabling someone to discover or learn something for themselves through methods such as experimentation, evaluation, and trial and error.
  • (Computing) Proceeding to a solution by trial and error or by rules that are only loosely defined.

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Example Sentences

“The pottery professor’s heuristic techniques helped students discover their individual sculpting style.”

“Following this heuristic will help you complete the assignment.” 

“I recommended some heuristic classes to help Pedro develop his creativity.”

Word Origin

Greek, late 18th century

Why this word?

“Heuristic” developed from the Greek word “heuriskein,” which means “find.” When used as an adjective, it describes a method of discovery — a heuristic process allows a person to learn something for themselves. A self-taught artist, for example, is someone who has developed skills in a heuristic manner through experimenting with different materials and styles. In everyday life, we might engage in a heuristic way of learning if we look for another route to avoid traffic without knowing the way. The word can also be used as a noun to refer to a specific piece of information used to guide the decision-making process. For example, one heuristic for judging whether to purchase an item could be how many times you expect to use it.

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