Through equation (63) or (69), the annealing schedule determines the degree of uphill movement permitted during the search and is, thus, critical to the algorithm's performance. The principle underlying the choice of a suitable annealing schedule is easily stated --- the initial temperature should be high enough to `melt' the system completely and should be reduced towards its `freezing point' as the search progresses --- but ``choosing an annealing schedule for practical purposes is still something of a black art'' (Bounds, [6]).

The standard implementation of the SA algorithm is one in which homogeneous Markov chains of finite length are generated at decreasing temperatures. The following parameters should therefore be specified:

- an initial temperature ;
- a final temperature or a stopping criterion;
- a length for the Markov chains; and
- a rule for decrementing the temperature.