What Is The Difference Between 'Satisficing' And 'Optimizing'?


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Samuel Chiltern answered
Satisficing is a strategy that attempts to meet criteria for adequacy, rather than spending additional time identifying an optimal (or best) solution.

Optimising involves adopting a strategy to select the best possible solution from the available options.

The word "satisficing" is a conjunction of the words satisfy and suffice, and means the finding of a solution which is "good enough".

This term is often used where it is considered that the very best outcome would only be marginally better than the alternatives, and is therefore not worth the additional cost of finding it.

Satisficing is often used by people making decisions about their personal life, for example when finding the cheapest car insurance online.

It would, of course, be possible to approach every insurer for a quote. However, once a person has found a quote that they consider acceptable, he or she might then consider that any extra time spent in obtaining additional quotes would not be worth the additional savings they might make by conducting this further research.

Optimising is a process which takes into account all the costs associated with the decision-making process, including the cost of making the decision itself.

Although not strictly a computing term, this technique is often employed in developing software solutions - since computers are able to compare a multitude of possible options in a fraction of the time that a human would take to complete the same task.

One of the main difficulties with optimising is knowing when to stop, since - even when you've found the best solution so far - a better solution may still be available.

Ironically, the process of optimising itself requires an optimised approach (which systematically evaluates all possible permutations), otherwise the process becomes extremely expensive!

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