Browse Definitions:
Definition

greedy algorithm

A greedy algorithm is a mathematical process that looks for simple, easy-to-implement solutions to complex, multi-step problems by deciding which next step will provide the most obvious benefit.

Such algorithms are called greedy because while the optimal solution to each smaller instance will provide an immediate output, the algorithm doesn’t consider the larger problem as a whole. Once a decision has been made, it is never reconsidered.

Greedy algorithms work by recursively constructing a set of objects from the smallest possible constituent parts. Recursion is an approach to problem solving in which the solution to a particular problem depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem. The advantage to using a greedy algorithm is that solutions to smaller instances of the problem can be straightforward and easy to understand. The disadvantage is that it is entirely possible that the most optimal short-term solutions may lead to the worst possible long-term outcome.

Greedy algorithms are often used in ad hoc mobile networking to efficiently route packets with the fewest number of hops and the shortest delay possible. They are also used in machine learning, business intelligence (BI), artificial intelligence (AI) and programming.

See also: KISS principle, Ockham's razor

 

This was last updated in February 2015

Continue Reading About greedy algorithm

Join the conversation

4 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

Have you ever suffered the results of a business decision you suspect was made with a greedy algorithm?
Cancel
Hi, I'm a computer science student taking Algorithms course, I googled "greedy algorithm" because I never understood what it means, and came across your explanation, which is the best one I've found so far - easy-to-understand and intuitive. Great writing! Will visit your website often!
Cancel
Have you ever suffered the results of a business decision made using a greedy algorithm?
Cancel
My organization made a decision to go with a greedy algorithm several months ago thinking the expeditious nature of the greedy algorithm would be helpful. What we experienced was small details being tended to at the expense of the greater system. The greedy algorithm has its purpose and uses but we chose poorly and should not have made the decision to use the greedy algorithm. It ended up costing us time and money.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • botnet

    A botnet is a collection of internet-connected devices, which may include PCs, servers, mobile devices and internet of things ...

  • Web application firewall (WAF)

    A Web application firewall (WAF) is a firewall that monitors, filters or blocks traffic to and from a Web application. WAFs are ...

  • MD5

    The MD5 hashing algorithm is a one-way cryptographic function that accepts a message of any length as input and returns as output...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • compact disc (CD)

    A compact disc is a portable storage medium that can be used for recording, storing and playing back audio, video and other data ...

  • secondary storage

    Secondary storage is used to protect inactive data written from a primary storage array to a nonvolatile tier of disk, flash or ...

  • VRAM (video ram)

    VRAM (video RAM) is a reference to any type of random access memory (RAM) used to store image data for a computer display.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID)

    SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID) is a methodology commonly used to protect data by distributing redundant data blocks across ...

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close