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Optimization is a general term for extremum searching (maximizing or minimizing) of particular properties.

In mathematics, it is usually the value of a particular function. Optimization is also termed Operations research when applied to practical economic problems. See optimization (mathematics).

In computer science, optimization is the process of improving a system in certain ways such as execution speed, memory requirements and bandwidth. Despite its name, optimization does not necessarily mean finding the optimum solution to a problem. Often this is not possible, and heuristic algorithms must be used instead.