backtrack

[bak-trak]
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:
1715–25, Americanism; back2 + track

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
backtrack (ˈbækˌtræk)
 
vb
1.  to return by the same route by which one has come
2.  to retract or reverse one's opinion, action, policy, etc
 
'backtracking
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

backtrack
"retrace one's steps," 1904, from back (adj.) + track (v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

backtracking definition

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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Example sentences for backtracking
Backtracking is a type of algorithm that is a refinement of brute force search.
Backtracking attempts to try all the combinations in order to obtain a solution.
Backtracking algorithms try each possibility until they find the right one.
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