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Thinking Through Heuristics and Algorithms

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Discuss and distinguish between the two primary methods of thinking about problems: algorithms and heuristics. Then suppose that you are going grocery shopping and that you are looking for guava juice. Give examples of both an algorithm and a heuristic procedure that you could use to search for guava juice.

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i) Algorithms - Thinking through a problem using algorithms is a technique that uses base solutions and builds on it. Thus, you have a complex problem but you break it down to the most common or simplest form, from which you then add on complex variables. For example: You are to establish a new passcode for a mutual fund account with the rules that it must be 8-22 characters long, and a combination of letters, numbers and characters. First you break it down ...

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This response discusses cognitive strategies for thinking through complex problems.

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Analyze problem solving, explaining the difference between heuristics and algorithms.

During problem solving, do you use primarily algorithms or heuristics? What are the advantages of each? Both have advantages and are useful for different situations and each relies on different type of knowing. Objective knowing, which uses systems and logic, is better paired with algorithmic problem solving.This includes formulae and theorems that have been tested and proven to work. Algorithms are used when there is a clear, systematic pathway to solving the problem.

Heuristics, which incorporates both objective and subjective knowing, is useful when solving issues that do not require a fomula. Heuristics uses both objective and subjective knowing, including historic background, research and other knowledge and also includes what appears to be an intuitive sense. This last sense usually is a reflection of knowledge gleaned through other sources but contributes to finding solutions to problems in a way that cannot be quantified in a set formula. Heuristics allow the mind to apply all it knows from different sources and sometimes seems like a shortcut to the solution when different ways of knowing come together through thoughtful process.

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