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.

This was last updated in February 2015

#### Join the conversation

Send me notifications when other members 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

## SearchCompliance

• ### risk map (risk heat map)

A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces.

• ### internal audit (IA)

An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

• ### pure risk (absolute risk)

Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

## SearchSecurity

• ### FIDO (Fast Identity Online)

FIDO (Fast ID Online) is a set of technology-agnostic security specifications for strong authentication. FIDO is developed by the...

• ### cryptanalysis

Cryptanalysis is the study of ciphertext, ciphers and cryptosystems with the aim of understanding how they work and finding and ...

• ### Trojan horse (computing)

In computing, a Trojan horse is a program that appears harmless, but is, in fact, malicious.

## SearchHealthIT

• ### HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act of 2009

The HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act of 2009 is legislation that was created to ...

• ### Epic Systems

Epic Systems is one of the largest providers of health information technology, used primarily by large U.S. hospitals and health ...

• ### accountable care organization (ACO)

An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, healthcare providers and insurers in which all parties ...

## SearchDisasterRecovery

• ### business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

• ### business continuity plan (BCP)

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

• ### call tree

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

## SearchStorage

• ### SSD TRIM

SSD TRIM is an Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) command that enables an operating system to inform a NAND flash solid-state ...

• ### cloud storage service

A cloud storage service is a business that maintains and manages its customers' data and makes that data accessible over a ...

• ### cloud hosting

Cloud hosting is the process of outsourcing an organization's computing and storage resources to a service provider that offers ...

## SearchSolidStateStorage

• ### hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close