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7.3. shortest paths

7.3.1. properties of shortest paths

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

In graph theory, the shortest path problem is the problem of finding a path between two vertices such that the sum of the weights of its constituent edges is minimized. An example is finding the quickest way to get from one location to another on a road map; in this case, the vertices represent locations and the edges represent segments of road and are weighted by the time needed to travel that segment.

Formally, given a weighted graph (that is, a set V of vertices, a set E of edges, and a real-valued weight function f : E → R), and one element v of V, find a path P from v to each v' of V so that

is minimal among all paths connecting v to v' .

Sometimes it is called the single-pair shortest path problem, to distinguish it from the following generalizations:

  • The single-source shortest path problem is a more general problem, in which we have to find shortest paths from a source vertex v to all other vertices in the graph.
  • The all-pairs shortest path problem is an even more general problem, in which we have to find shortest paths between every pair of vertices v, v' in the graph.

Both these generalizations have significantly more performant algorithms in practice than simply running a single-pair shortest path algorithm on all relevant pairs of vertices.


The most important algorithms for solving this problem are:

  • Dijkstra's algorithm — solves single source problem if all edge weights are greater than or equal to zero. Without worsening the run time, this algorithm can in fact compute the shortest paths from a given start point s to all other nodes.
  • Bellman-Ford algorithm — solves single source problem if edge weights may be negative.
  • A* search algorithm solves for single source shortest paths using heuristics to try to speed up the search
  • Floyd-Warshall algorithm — solves all pairs shortest paths.
  • Johnson's algorithm — solves all pairs shortest paths, may be faster than Floyd-Warshall on sparse graphs.
  • Perturbation theory; finds (at worst) the locally shortest path


Shortest path algorithms are applied in an obvious way to automatically find directions between physical locations, such as driving directions on web mapping websites like Mapquest.

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 represents 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. e.g.: Shortest (min-delay) widest path or Widest shortest (min-delay) path.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
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what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
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what does nano mean?
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nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
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it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
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s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
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Source:  OpenStax, Data structures and algorithms. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10765/1.1
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