Monday, January 18, 2016

Word of the day


heuristic - Wiktionary
Etymology: Irregular formation from Ancient Greek εὑρίσκω ‎(heurískō, “I find, discover”).
Adjective: heuristic ‎(comparative more heuristic, superlative most heuristic)
  1. Relating to general strategies or methods for solving problems.
  2. (computing, of a method or algorithm) that solves a problem more quickly but is not certain to arrive at an optimal solution.
Noun: heuristic ‎(plural heuristics)
  1. A heuristic method.
  2. The art of applying heuristic methods.

Heuristic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A heuristic technique (/hjᵿˈrɪstk/; Ancient Greek: εὑρίσκω, "find" or "discover"), often called simply a heuristic, is any approach to problem solving, learning, or discovery that employs a practical method not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect, but sufficient for the immediate goals. 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. Examples of this method include using a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, stereotyping, profiling, or common sense.
An outfielder uses a heuristic when he saunters over to exactly the place where the fly ball will appear to fall into his glove.  Russell Wilson uses a heuristic when his play is broken and he still throws a forward pass to a receiver for a touchdown. A shotgun shooter uses heuristics to powder a clay pigeon.

What brought this up is that I am reading Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, by Gerd Gigerenzer.
Reflection and reason are overrated, according to renowned psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. Much better qualified to help us make decisions is the cognitive, emotional, and social repertoire we call intuition?a suite of gut feelings that have evolved over the millennia specifically for making decisions.... Gigerenzer ...explain{s} just why our gut instincts are so often right. Intuition, it seems, is not some sort of mystical chemical reaction but a neurologically based behavior that evolved to ensure that we humans respond quickly when faced with a dilemma? (BusinessWeek).
I'm two or three chapters into this slim volume, and so far it is pretty accessible, and full of examples of research and experiment, not just psycho-babble, as one might fear. )Professor Gigerenzer's research is the basis for another, perhaps better known book, Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.)

Was HAL9000* really a "heuristic algorithmic" computer? Is that even possible? Maybe the problems with HAL were that it was programmed using heuristics rather than proper logic...

*Which supports Clarke's and Kubrick's contention that HAL's name was a coincidence, and not just a "one letter before IBM..."

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