Heuristics

tags:
2013-12-13

I recently saw a talk by Jack Dorsey where he iterates a list of commandments for this life, and number three is “drink only lemon water and red wine”.

I love red wine, and was intrigued by this lemon water idea. I investigated and it led me to an article which asks how much lemon water is needed. They quote a heuristic:

For those who weigh less than 150 pounds, squeeze half a lemon’s worth of juice into a glass of water. If over 150 pounds, use an entire lemon’s juice.

This is a heuristic, and it is beautiful. It saved the author from quoting an entire “weight in pounds to amount of lemon” table.

The heuristic is one of my favourite concepts of all time. During engineering school in the late nineties it became ever more apparent what a powerful concept it is, e.g. using lookup tables when designing flow systems with complex flow dynamics. It makes applied rocket science a bit easier. Or when solving path finding problems where the brute force method is just not a viable option in terms of time complexity.

Anyhoo, I’ve reached my 10 minute limit for writing ★, and since I can’t do this powerful concept any justice with just a few words, I’ll let the editors of Wikipedia englighten you further.

★ this is my own heuristic (aka “rule of thumb”) for not spending too much time on writing.

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