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As in, the area of the papers in the ACM Journal on Experimental Algorithmic JEA.

Which were the foundational works? What are the main results? How are they characterized? Any interesting connections to other areas of computer science?

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Probably the single most important guide to experimental algorithmic is David Johnson's article on how to do it, which also has lots of references.
http://www2.research.att.com/~dsj/papers/experguide.pdf

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Catherine McGeoch has a nice paper where she tried to popularize the field: Experimental algorithmics. Another similar effort is by Peter Sanders: Algorithm Engineering - An Attempt at a Definition (http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-03456-5_22).

Anyway IMO the best introduction to the field is Programming Pearl by Jon Bentley. It shows several real-world cases of application of experimental algorithmics with great connections to different areas of sience.

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