Why are heuristics problematic

Are heuristics the better algorithms? An attempt to answer using the example of the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP)

Datafication and Big Data pp 55-93 | Cite as

  • Christian Wadephul
First Online:
Part of the Anthropologie - Philosophy of Technology - Society book series (ATG)


Algorithms are as diverse as the applications that make them possible: from autonomous driving cars, language processing and text generation to DNA decryption and analysis of stock markets, there are thousands of algorithms that control digital processes (programs). Whenever software reacts to an input, the reaction (output) has been calculated by algorithms. 'Algos', as they are almost affectionately known in specialist circles, are digitally formalizable instructions that make computers run. The methodological repertoire of computer science has grown considerably in scope and complexity in recent years. To the elementary and exact algorithmic Methods are heuristic Strategies have been added that are not always optimal, but more efficient and often provide solutions for the first time in the case of complex problems. The contribution would like - v. a. with reference to the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) - show to what extent heuristics even have to be viewed as better algorithms.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1. Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, Karlsruhe, Germany