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backtrack

[bak-trak] /ˈbækˌtræk/
verb (used without object)
1.
to return over the same course or route.
2.
to withdraw from an undertaking, position, etc.; reverse a policy.
Origin of backtrack
1715-1725
1715-25, Americanism; back2 + track
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for backtracking
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • backtracking ourselves, we found where she had left the road and had hidden behind a big rock while we had passed.

    I Married a Ranger Dama Margaret Smith
  • If we did, we'd have to do a lot of backtracking to get back to this dead star.

    Islands of Space John W Campbell
  • In backtracking along the highway, they encountered two extensive patches of flood water.

    Dan Carter Cub Scout Mildred A. Wirt
British Dictionary definitions for backtracking

backtrack

/ˈbækˌtræk/
verb (intransitive)
1.
to return by the same route by which one has come
2.
to retract or reverse one's opinion, action, policy, etc
Derived Forms
backtracking, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for backtracking

backtrack

v.

"retrace one's steps," figuratively, by 1896, from literal sense, with reference to hunted foxes, from back (adv.) + track (v.). Related: Backtracked; backtracking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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backtracking in Technology
algorithm
A scheme for solving a series of sub-problems each of which may have multiple possible solutions and where the solution chosen for one sub-problem may affect the possible solutions of later sub-problems.
To solve the overall problem, we find a solution to the first sub-problem and then attempt to recursively solve the other sub-problems based on this first solution. If we cannot, or we want all possible solutions, we backtrack and try the next possible solution to the first sub-problem and so on. Backtracking terminates when there are no more solutions to the first sub-problem.
This is the algorithm used by logic programming languages such as Prolog to find all possible ways of proving a goal. An optimisation known as "intelligent backtracking" keeps track of the dependencies between sub-problems and only re-solves those which depend on an earlier solution which has changed.
Backtracking is one algorithm which can be used to implement nondeterminism. It is effectively a depth-first search of a problem space.
(1995-04-13)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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