1 In connectionism (1) and parallel distributed processing, the use of random shocks to alter the states of units in a network of connected units until they are all responding as consistently as possible to signals received from one another and no further adjustments in connections and firing rates can lead to further improvements. The random shocks are designed to overcome the problem of entrapment in local minima after gradient descent or in local maxima after hill climbing procedures. The technique is analogous to tapping or shaking a toaster to get the crumbs to fall to the bottom. Compare relaxation technique.
2 In genetic engineering, heating double-stranded DNA so that the strands separate and then allowing them to cool in the presence of single strands from another organism to form heteroduplex DNA. See also DNA hybridization, hybridization, recombinant DNA. anneal vb. [Alluding to annealing, making metal easier to work by heating it and allowing it to cool slowly, thereby removing internal stresses and realigning the molecules or crystals within the microstructure of the material, from Old English onaelan to set on fire, from on on + aelan to burn, from al fire]