= W =
wall follower n.
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. See also code grinder; compare droid.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.