Journal article Open Access

Finding shortest paths on real road networks: the case for A*

Zeng, W.; Church, R. L.

The problem of identifying the shortest path along a road network is a fundamental problem in network analysis, ranging from route guidance in a navigation system to solving spatial allocation problems. Since this type of problem is solved so frequently, it is important to craft an approach that is as efficient as possible. Based upon past research, it is generally accepted that several efficient implementations of the Dijkstra algorithm are the fastest at optimally solving the 'one‐to‐one' shortest path problem (Cherkassky et al. 1996 Cherkassky, B. V., Goldberg, A. V. and Radzik, T. 1996. Shortest paths algorithms: theory and experimental evaluation.. Mathematical Programming: Series A and B, 73: 129–174. [Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). We show that the most efficient state‐of‐the‐art implementations of Dijkstra can be improved by taking advantage of network properties associated with GIS‐sourced data. The results of this paper, derived from tests of different algorithmic approaches on real road networks, will be extremely valuable for application developers and researchers in the GIS community.

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