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In mathematical optimization and computer science, heuristic (from Greek εὑρίσκω "I find, discover") is a technique designed for problem solving more quickly when classic methods are too slow for finding an exact or approximate solution, or when classic methods fail to find any exact solution. This is achieved by trading optimality, completeness, accuracy, or precision for speed. In a way, it can be considered a shortcut.
A heuristic function, also simply called a heuristic, is a function that ranks alternatives in search algorithms at each branching step based on available information to decide which branch to follow. For example, it may approximate the exact solution.