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In mathematical programming, this usually means a procedure that seeks an optimal solution but does not guarantee it will find one, even if one exists. It is often used in contrast to an algorithm, so branch and bound would not be considered a heuristic in this sense. In AI, however, a heuristic is an algorithm (with some guarantees) that uses a heuristic function to estimate the "cost" of branching from a given node to a leaf of the search tree. (Also, in AI, the usual rules of node selection in branch and bound can be determined by the choice of heuristic function: best-first, breadth-first, or depth-first search.)

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