Look ahead is the generic term for a subprocedure that attempts to foresee the effects of choosing a branching variable to evaluate one of its values. The two main aims of look-ahead are to choose a variable to evaluate next and the order of values to assign to it.
In a general constraint satisfaction problem, every variable can take a value in a domain. A backtracking algorithm therefore iteratively chooses a variable and tests each of its possible values; for each value the algorithm is recursively run. Look ahead is used to check the effects of choosing a given variable to evaluate or to decide the order of values to give to it.
The results of look ahead is used to decide the next variable to evaluate and the order of values to give to this variable. In particular, for any unassigned variable and value, look-ahead estimates the effects of setting that variable to that value.