Finding Your Way: Shortest Paths on Networks

19 Nov 2020  ·  Teresa Rexin, Mason A. Porter ·

Traveling to different destinations is a big part of our lives. We visit a variety of locations both during our daily lives and when we're on vacation. How can we find the best way to navigate from one place to another? Perhaps we can test all of the different ways of traveling between two places, but another method is to use mathematics and computation to find a shortest path. We discuss how to construct a shortest path and introduce Dijkstra's algorithm to minimize the total cost of a path, where the cost may be the travel distance, travel time, or some other measurement. We also discuss how to use shortest paths in the real world to save time and increase traveling efficiency.

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