Basic Search Patterns in Heuristic Search

  • Baxter F. Womack


A general discussion of heuristics is followed by a discussion of a particular type of problem to be solved by a heuristic method. The problem, a common one in control theory, is the searching of the highest point on a multi-dimensional, multi-modal surface. An experiment was conducted in which human subjects performed heuristic searches to find the peak of a two-dimensional, multi-modal surface. Results of this experiment indicate a subject searches a hill according to a predetermined pattern called the basic search pattern. Using the concept of a basic search pattern a theoretical procedure for a heuristic search is postulated.

The search made of a trial point is only one of the attributes of a trial point, and not an independent one at that. A trial point has several important attributes: its location on the map, height, area of maximum relevance, and position with respect to all other trial points and its boundaries on the map. These attributes and other possible information are inputs to the subject’s search algorithm. The output of the algorithm is the location of the next trial point. This search algorithm is the core of the heuristic search process. The interaction of global and local trials by means of the algorithm leads to a pattern described as the basic search pattern.

Experiments are summarized in the paper which illustrate the existence of a basic search pattern.


Heuristic Search High Point Heuristic Method Criterion Function Trial Point 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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    “A Survey of Heuristic Search Method of Multimodal Optimum Point” M. Oda, K. Nakamura and B.F. Womack, this conference: U.S.—Japan Seminar on Learning Control and Intelligent Control, Oct. 22–26, 1973, Gainesville, Florida.Google Scholar
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    “Experimental Study of Heuristic Search Method for Two-Dimensional Multimodal Optimum Point”, M. Oda and B.F. Womack, T.R. No. 113, Electronics Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Sept. 15, 1971, 80 pp.Google Scholar
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    “Heuristics for Search Techniques”, S. Harinasuta, M.S. thesis, The University of Texas at Austin, Dec., 1971, 89 pp.Google Scholar
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    “Basic Patterns in Heuristic Searches,” R.H. Graham, M.S. thesis, The University of Texas at Austin, May, 1972, 72 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baxter F. Womack
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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