Introduction to Algorithms, Heuristics and Meta-heuristics


Algorithms in Real Life

At school I was always confused between Algorithms and Logarithms…Anagrams were meaningful later. Then I encountered heuristics and lately meta-heuristics. I tried to differentiate algorithms, heuristics and meta-heuristics. Additional words such as methods, steps and instructions also joined the fray.

A simple definition of algorithm – Wikipedia defines it as – “it is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function”. See here

Some key characteristics emerges

  • Finite list – a stricter opinion requires algorithm to have a finite set of actions.
  • Stopping criteria – An algorithm is expected to elegantly stop and not go on forever. There is also a debate on what an effective method means and lot has been written on this in terms of evaluation of an algorithm.
  • Solution Guarantee – A solution is always guaranteed and is the correct one.

Heuristic on the other hand, while not an algorithm…

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