Heuristic argument

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A heuristic argument is an argument that reasons from the value of a method or principle that has been shown experimentally (especially through trial-and-error) to be useful or convincing in learning, discovery and problem-solving, but whose line of reasoning involves key oversimplifications that make it not entirely rigorous.[1][2] A widely used and important example of a heuristic argument is Occam's Razor.

It is a speculative, non-rigorous argument that relies on analogy or intuition, and that allows one to achieve a result or an approximation that is to be checked later with more rigor. Otherwise, the results are generally to be doubted. It is used as a hypothesis or a conjecture in an investigation, though it can also be used as a mnemonic as well.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Definitive Glossary of Higher Mathematical Jargon — Heuristics". Math Vault. 2019-08-01. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  2. ^ "Heuristic argument". The Prime Glossary. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  3. ^ Brodsky, Stanley J.; Ellis, John; Karliner, Marek (1988). "Chiral symmetry and the spin of the proton" (PDF). Physics Letters B. 206 (2): 309–315. doi:10.1016/0370-2693(88)91511-0.