A green background indicates an asymptotically best bound in the table; L is the maximum length or weight among all edges, assuming integer edge weights. The all-pairs shortest path problem finds the shortest paths between every pair of vertices v , v' in the graph. The all-pairs shortest paths problem for unweighted directed graphs was introduced by Shimbel , who observed that it could be solved by a linear number of matrix multiplications that takes a total time of O V 4.
Shortest path algorithms are applied to automatically find directions between physical locations, such as driving directions on web mapping websites like MapQuest or Google Maps. For this application fast specialized algorithms are available. If one represents a nondeterministic abstract machine as a graph where vertices describe states and edges describe possible transitions, shortest path algorithms can be used to find an optimal sequence of choices to reach a certain goal state, or to establish lower bounds on the time needed to reach a given state.
For example, if vertices represent the states of a puzzle like a Rubik's Cube and each directed edge corresponds to a single move or turn, shortest path algorithms can be used to find a solution that uses the minimum possible number of moves. In a networking or telecommunications mindset, this shortest path problem is sometimes called the min-delay path problem and usually tied with a widest path problem. For example, the algorithm may seek the shortest min-delay widest path, or widest shortest min-delay path. A more lighthearted application is the games of " six degrees of separation " that try to find the shortest path in graphs like movie stars appearing in the same film.
Other applications, often studied in operations research , include plant and facility layout, robotics , transportation , and VLSI design. A road network can be considered as a graph with positive weights. The nodes represent road junctions and each edge of the graph is associated with a road segment between two junctions.
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The weight of an edge may correspond to the length of the associated road segment, the time needed to traverse the segment, or the cost of traversing the segment. Using directed edges it is also possible to model one-way streets. Such graphs are special in the sense that some edges are more important than others for long distance travel e. This property has been formalized using the notion of highway dimension.
All of these algorithms work in two phases. In the first phase, the graph is preprocessed without knowing the source or target node. The second phase is the query phase. In this phase, source and target node are known. The idea is that the road network is static, so the preprocessing phase can be done once and used for a large number of queries on the same road network. The algorithm with the fastest known query time is called hub labeling and is able to compute shortest path on the road networks of Europe or the USA in a fraction of a microsecond.
For shortest path problems in computational geometry , see Euclidean shortest path. The travelling salesman problem is the problem of finding the shortest path that goes through every vertex exactly once, and returns to the start. The problem of finding the longest path in a graph is also NP-complete. The Canadian traveller problem and the stochastic shortest path problem are generalizations where either the graph isn't completely known to the mover, changes over time, or where actions traversals are probabilistic.
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The shortest multiple disconnected path  is a representation of the primitive path network within the framework of Reptation theory. The widest path problem seeks a path so that the minimum label of any edge is as large as possible. Sometimes, the edges in a graph have personalities: each edge has its own selfish interest.
An example is a communication network, in which each edge is a computer that possibly belongs to a different person. Different computers have different transmission speeds, so every edge in the network has a numeric weight equal to the number of milliseconds it takes to transmit a message. Our goal is to send a message between two points in the network in the shortest time possible.
If we know the transmission-time of each computer the weight of each edge , then we can use a standard shortest-paths algorithm. If we do not know the transmission times, then we have to ask each computer to tell us its transmission-time. But, the computers may be selfish: a computer might tell us that its transmission time is very long, so that we will not bother it with our messages.
A possible solution to this problem is to use a variant of the VCG mechanism , which gives the computers an incentive to reveal their true weights. There is a natural linear programming formulation for the shortest path problem, given below. It is very simple compared to most other uses of linear programs in discrete optimization , however it illustrates connections to other concepts.
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Given a directed graph V , A with source node s , target node t , and cost w ij for each edge i , j in A , consider the program with variables x ij. We wish to select the set of edges with minimal weight, subject to the constraint that this set forms a path from s to t represented by the equality constraint: for all vertices except s and t the number of incoming and outcoming edges that are part of the path must be the same i.
This LP has the special property that it is integral; more specifically, every basic optimal solution when one exists has all variables equal to 0 or 1, and the set of edges whose variables equal 1 form an s - t dipath. See Ahuja et al. Many problems can be framed as a form of the shortest path for some suitably substituted notions of addition along a path and taking the minimum. The general approach to these is to consider the two operations to be those of a semiring. Semiring multiplication is done along the path, and the addition is between paths.
This general framework is known as the algebraic path problem. Most of the classic shortest-path algorithms and new ones can be formulated as solving linear systems over such algebraic structures. More recently, an even more general framework for solving these and much less obviously related problems has been developed under the banner of valuation algebras. In real-life situations, the transportation network is usually stochastic and time-dependent. In fact, a traveler traversing a link daily may experiences different travel times on that link due not only to the fluctuations in travel demand origin-destination matrix but also due to such incidents as work zones, bad weather conditions, accidents and vehicle breakdowns.
As a result, a stochastic time-dependent STD network is a more realistic representation of an actual road network compared with the deterministic one. Despite considerable progress during the course of the past decade, it remains a controversial question how an optimal path should be defined and identified in stochastic road networks.
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In other words, there is no unique definition of an optimal path under uncertainty. One possible and common answer to this question is to find a path with the minimum expected travel time. The main advantage of using this approach is that efficient shortest path algorithms introduced for the deterministic networks can be readily employed to identify the path with the minimum expected travel time in a stochastic network.
However, the resulting optimal path identified by this approach may not be reliable, because this approach fails to address travel time variability. To tackle this issue some researchers use distribution of travel time instead of expected value of it so they find the probability distribution of total travelling time using different optimization methods such as dynamic programming and Dijkstra's algorithm.
In order to account for travel time reliability more accurately, two common alternative definitions for an optimal path under uncertainty have been suggested. Some have introduced the concept of the most reliable path, aiming to maximize the probability of arriving on time or earlier than a given travel time budget.
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