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a thinking technique


heuristics = Entscheidungsregeln; mentale Strategien, Faustregeln oder Abkürzungen, die uns helfen, mit begrenztem Wissen und begrenzter Zeit Entscheidungen zu treffen und Urteile zu fällen.



“What Are HEURISTICS? - These mental shortcuts can help people make decisions more efficiently."

Kendra Cherry - Very Well Mind (8th November 2022)

Did you

adjective & noun

- involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods

- of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques (such as the evaluation of feedback) to improve performance



The word “heuristic” comes from the Greek word “heuriskein,” which means “to find” or “to discover.” In ancient Greece, heuristics was a method of inquiry used by mathematicians and philosophers to find solutions to problems. The method involved making educated guesses or hypotheses and then testing them to see if they were correct.

The term was later adopted in the field of computer science, where it refers to algorithms or problem-solving techniques that are designed to quickly find approximate solutions to complex problems. The heuristic approach in computer science involves using rules of thumb, experience, and intuition to guide the search for solutions, rather than relying on exhaustive computation.

Today, the term “heuristic” is used more broadly to refer to any technique or approach that is used to solve problems or make decisions in a quick and practical way, without necessarily following a strictly logical or rigorous process.

The economist and cognitive psychologist Herbert A. Simon introduced the concept of heuristics in the 1950s, suggesting there were limitations to rational decision making. In the 1970s, psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman added to the field with ground-breaking research on cognitive bias.


“The Undoing Project – Psychology’s Lennon and McCartney” by Michael Lewis, tells the compelling story of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman*

Tversky and Kahneman, met in Tel Aviv in the 1960s and, after becoming close friends and collaborators, created a new field of study called “Behavioural Economics” —— examining how people make decisions based on emotions, biases, and habits, rather than logic or reason.

They showed that people tend to make decisions based on small sample sizes, such as flipping a coin and assuming that the next flip is more likely to be tails if the previous two were heads. They also demonstrated that people tend to see patterns and connections where none exist —— a common cause of faulty decision-making.

Tversky was known for his ability to shape ideas and his insouciant (unbekümmert) intellect, while Kahneman had a scattershot mind, always moving from one idea to the next. Their creative partnership ultimately came to an end, but their work continues to influence the field of economics and psychology to this day.

Kahneman gave a brilliant TED talk in 2010 — still highly topical: “The riddle of experience vs. memory”


- a mental shortcut used to make decisions quickly without having all the relevant information

appraisal, appraisement, approximate calculation, approximation, assessment, ballpark estimate (figure), brain hacks, common sense, conjecture, considered opinion, educated guess, estimate, estimation, evaluation, figuring, gauging, guess, guesstimate, guesswork, gut reaction, HEURISTIC (method, technique), hypothesis, inference, informed/intelligent guess, intuition, mental shortcuts, postulate, predicting, projection, rough calculation (guess, idea, measure), rule of thumb, Sherlockian deduction, shortcut sauce, sizing up, stock, surmise, Swiss-Army-Knife thinking

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation with a tech-friend and raise a smile:

“Why did the computer scientist switch to using HEURISTICS instead of algorithms? Because he realized he was just going around in loops with his algorithms!”

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