Backtracking is a general algorithm for finding solutions to some computational problem, that incrementally builds candidates to the solutions, and rejects continued processing of tracks that would lead to impossible solutions.

Backtracking is an important tool for solving constraint satisfaction problems, such as crosswords, verbal arithmetic, Sudoku, and many other puzzles. It is often the most convenient (if not the most efficient) technique for parsing, for the knapsack problem and other combinatorial optimization problems. It is also the basis of the so-called logic programming languages such as Icon, Planner and Prolog. Backtracking is also utilized in the (diff) difference engine for the MediaWiki software.