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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
wall follower
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robotics A person or algorithm that compensates for lack
of sophistication or native stupidity by efficiently following
some simple procedure shown to have been effective in the
past. Used of an algorithm, this is not necessarily
pejorative; it recalls "Harvey Wallbanger", the winning robot
in an early AI contest (named, of course, after the cocktail).
Harvey successfully solved mazes by keeping a "finger" on one
wall and running till it came out the other end. This was
inelegant, but it was mathematically guaranteed to work on
simply-connected mazes - and, in fact, Harvey outperformed
more sophisticated robots that tried to "learn" each maze by
building an internal representation of it. Used of humans,
the term *is* pejorative and implies an uncreative,
bureaucratic, by-the-book mentality.