In the January 2012 issue of MSDN Magazine I have an article about simulated annealing. Simulated annealing is an artificial intelligence technique that is modeled on the behavior of cooling metals. Simulated annealing can be used to estimate the optimal solution to difficult or impossible combinatorial optimization problems such as the Traveling Salesman problem where the goal is the find the order in which to visit a set of cities so that the total distance traveled is minimized. Related techniques are Simulated Bee Colony Algorithms and Ant Colony Optimization. However, Genetic Algorithms, Particle Swarm Optimization, and Bacterial Foraging Optimization are more distantly related to Simulated Annealing because they are best suited to solve numeric (rather than combinatorial) optimization problems. You can check the article out at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/hh708758.aspx.