Introduction to Algorithms, Heuristics and Meta-heuristics

Algorithms in Real Life

At school,  I used to be often confused between Algorithms and Logarithms. I became familiar with anagrams later when I started solving crosswords.

I then encountered terminologies such as heuristics and metaheuristics. In this article I have attempted to differentiate algorithms, heuristics and metaheuristics.


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 stopping criterion is, and lot has been written on this in terms of evaluation of an algorithm.
  • Solution Guarantee – A solution is always guaranteed and is the optimal one.


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