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Shortest-Path Problem

  • By: Joni A. Downs
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The shortest-path problem is one of the most basic and widely applied forms of network analysis used in computational geometry and geographic information systems (GIS). Networks, or graphs, are used to model linear features such as roads and streets using a series of connected nodes (vertices or points) and links (edges or lines). Nodes typically represent the locations of origins, destinations, and intersections, while links are constructed as line segments that connect the nodes. Each link in the network is assigned a weight or cost that is associated with moving from the starting to the ending node. Weights can be assigned based on segment length, weighted distance, or other cost, such as expected travel time. The shortest-path problem then is used to determine the optimal ...

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