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Extremum seeking is a form of adaptive control where the steady-state input-output characteristic is optimized, without requiring any explicit knowledge about this input-output characteristic other than that it exists and that it has an extremum. Because extremum seeking is model free, it has proven to be both robust and effective in many different application domains. Equally being model free, there are clear limitations to what can be achieved. Perhaps paradoxically, although being model free, extremum seeking is a gradient based optimization technique. Extremum seeking relies on an appropriate exploration of the process to be optimized to provide the user with an approximate gradient, and hence the means to locate an extremum. These observations are elucidated in the paper. Using averaging and time-scale separation ideas more generally, the main behavioral characteristics of the simplest (model free) extremum seeking algorithm are established.