|The JC pontificates about technology |
An occasional series.
An approach to problem solving or learning using a practical method, not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, logical, or rational, but instead sufficient for reaching an immediate goal. Where finding an optimal solution is impossible or impractical, heuristic methods can be used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution. Heuristics can be mental shortcuts that ease the cognitive load of making a decision.
Heuristics are gold-dust in the hands of subject matter experts — because they require expertise and judgment to use them correctly — but a disaster in the hands of the great unwashed, for whom algorithms area much better bet.