# Compute the Shortest Path between Two Nodes (Solved)

## Introduction

In computer science, one of the fundamental problems is finding the shortest path between two nodes in a graph. The shortest path problem is applicable in various real-world scenarios such as navigation systems, network routing, traffic optimization, and social network analysis. In this tutorial, we will discuss the shortest path problem, its real-world applications, and learn how to solve it using various algorithms.

## Real-world Examples and Scenarios

### Navigation Systems

In navigation systems, such as Google Maps or Waze, the shortest path problem is essential for finding the quickest route between two locations. This helps users to save time and fuel by avoiding longer or congested routes.

### Network Routing

In computer networks, routers use the shortest path algorithms to determine the most efficient path for data packets to travel from the source to the destination. This allows for efficient utilization of network resources and minimizes the latency in data transmission.

### Traffic Optimization

In traffic optimization, the shortest path problem is used to find the most efficient routes for vehicles to travel from one point to another. This can help in reducing traffic congestion and improving transportation efficiency.

### Social Network Analysis

In social network analysis, the shortest path problem is used to study the relationships between individuals in a network. It can help to identify the most influential people in the network, the most connected individuals, or the shortest path to spread information among network members.

## Problem Scenario: Shortest Path in a Road Network

Consider a road network represented as a graph, where nodes represent intersections and edges represent the roads connecting the intersections. Each edge has a weight representing the distance between two intersections. To find the shortest path between two intersections, we need to minimize the total distance traveled along the path.

## Problem Statement

Given a graph `G = (V, E)`

, where `V`

is the set of nodes representing intersections and `E`

is the set of edges representing roads, along with a source node `s`

and a destination node `t`

, find the shortest path from `s`

to `t`

.

## Tying the Problem Statement with the Real-world Scenario

In the context of our road network scenario, we want to find the shortest path between the source intersection `s`

and the destination intersection `t`

. This will help drivers find the most efficient route to their destination, saving time and fuel.

## Solution to the Problem

There are various algorithms to solve the shortest path problem, including Dijkstra's Algorithm, Bellman-Ford Algorithm, and Floyd-Warshall Algorithm. In this tutorial, we will focus on Dijkstra's Algorithm as it is widely used and efficient for most practical purposes.

## Solving the Problem Step by Step with Dijkstra's Algorithm

Dijkstra's Algorithm is a graph search algorithm that solves the single-source shortest path problem for a graph with non-negative edge weights. It works by iteratively selecting the node with the smallest known distance from the source node and updating the distances of its neighbors.

Here are the steps to implement Dijkstra's Algorithm:

- Create a set of unvisited nodes and initialize the distance of the source node to 0 and the distances of all other nodes to infinity.
- While there are unvisited nodes, select the node with the smallest known distance and mark it as visited.
- For each neighbor of the current node, calculate the distance to the neighbor through the current node. If this distance is less than the current distance to the neighbor, update the neighbor's distance.
- Repeat steps 2-3 until all nodes have been visited or the destination node has been visited.

## Dijkstra's Algorithm: Code Example

Here's a Python implementation of Dijkstra's Algorithm:

```
import heapq
def dijkstra(graph, source, destination):
# Initialize the distance dictionary with infinite distances for all nodes except the source
distances = {node: float('infinity') for node in graph}
distances[source] = 0
# Create an empty priority queue and add the source node with distance 0
priority_queue = [(0, source)]
while priority_queue:
# Get the node with the smallest distance
current_distance, current_node = heapq.heappop(priority_queue)
# If the current node is the destination, return the distance
if current_node == destination:
return distances[destination]
# If the current distance is greater than the recorded distance for the current node, skip it
if current_distance > distances[current_node]:
continue
# Update the distances of neighboring nodes
for neighbor, distance in graph[current_node].items():
new_distance = current_distance + distance
# If the new distance is less than the recorded distance, update it
if new_distance < distances[neighbor]:
distances[neighbor] = new_distance
heapq.heappush(priority_queue, (new_distance, neighbor))
# If the destination node is not reachable, return infinity
return float('infinity')
```

## Understanding the Solution

Dijkstra's Algorithm can be understood intuitively as a "wavefront" spreading out from the source node, visiting nodes in order of their distance from the source. The algorithm maintains a priority queue of nodes to visit, sorted by their distance from the source. It repeatedly selects the node with the smallest distance, updates the distances of its neighbors, and adds them to the queue. This process continues until the destination node is visited or all nodes have been visited.

## Solving Other Real-world Problems

The solution provided in this tutorial can also be applied to other real-world problems that involve finding the shortest path between two nodes in a graph. Examples include:

- Optimizing transportation routes in logistics and supply chain management
- Identifying the shortest sequence of connections in a computer network to minimize latency
- Recommending the shortest path to complete a series of tasks in project management

In summary, the shortest path problem is a fundamental problem in computer science with various real-world applications. Dijkstra's Algorithm is an efficient and widely used algorithm for solving the shortest path problem in graphs with non-negative edge weights. By understanding and implementing this algorithm, you can solve various real-world problems that require finding the shortest path between two nodes in a graph.