# Find the Maximum Flow in a Network (Solved)

## Introduction to Maximum Flow in a Network

In various real-world scenarios, we often come across the problem of determining the maximum flow that can be achieved through a network of nodes and edges, where each edge has a certain capacity. The maximum flow problem is a classical optimization problem that involves finding the maximum flow through a network with capacity constraints on its edges. In this lesson, we'll discuss the concept of maximum flow in a network, explore real-world examples and scenarios, and solve a problem step by step using actual code examples.

## Real-world Examples and Scenarios

The maximum flow problem has numerous applications in different fields such as transportation, telecommunication, computer networks, and more. Some real-world examples of maximum flow problems are:

**Transportation**: In transportation networks, we often need to find the maximum amount of goods that can be transported from a source to a destination through a network of roads, highways, and railways with capacity limitations.

**Telecommunication**: In telecommunication networks, the maximum flow problem can be used to find the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted from a source to a destination through a network of communication channels with bandwidth limitations.

**Computer Networks**: In computer networks, the maximum flow problem can be used to determine the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted from a server to a client through a network of routers and links with capacity limitations.

**Water Distribution**: In water distribution systems, the maximum flow problem can be used to find the maximum amount of water that can be supplied from a source to a destination through a network of pipes with capacity limitations.

## Real-world Scenario and Technical Problem

Let's consider a real-world scenario in which we have a transportation network consisting of several cities connected by roads. Each road has a limited capacity in terms of the maximum amount of goods that can be transported through it. Our goal is to determine the maximum amount of goods that can be transported from a source city to a destination city through this network.

### Problem Statement

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

representing a transportation network, where `V`

is the set of vertices (cities) and `E`

is the set of edges (roads), each edge `(u, v)`

has a capacity `c(u, v)`

representing the maximum amount of goods that can be transported through the road. We are also given a source vertex `s`

and a destination vertex `t`

. The problem is to find the maximum flow `f`

from `s`

to `t`

in the network, subject to the capacity constraints of the edges.

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

In the context of our transportation network scenario, the vertices of the graph represent the cities, the edges represent the roads connecting the cities, and the capacities represent the maximum amount of goods that can be transported through each road. The source and destination vertices represent the cities from which we want to transport goods and the cities to which we want to deliver the goods, respectively. The maximum flow represents the maximum amount of goods that can be transported from the source to the destination through the network.

## Solution to the Problem

To solve the maximum flow problem, we can use the **Ford-Fulkerson algorithm**, which is an iterative method that finds the maximum flow by augmenting the flow through the network along a series of augmenting paths. The algorithm maintains a residual graph `G'`

, which is initialized to be the same as the original graph `G`

. In each iteration, the algorithm finds an augmenting path in the residual graph, and augments the flow along the path. The algorithm terminates when no more augmenting paths can be found.

Here's a high-level overview of the Ford-Fulkerson algorithm:

- Initialize the flow
`f`

to be zero and create a residual graph`G'`

with the same vertices and edges as`G`

. - While there is an augmenting path
`P`

in`G'`

from`s`

to`t`

, do the following: - Find the minimum capacity
`c`

along the path`P`

. - Augment the flow
`f`

by`c`

. - Update the capacities of the edges in
`G'`

along the path`P`

. - Return the maximum flow
`f`

.

## Solving the Problem Step by Step with the Real-world Scenario

Let's now apply the Ford-Fulkerson algorithm to our transportation network scenario to find the maximum flow from the source city to the destination city.

**Initialize the flow and the residual graph**: We start by initializing the flow `f`

to be zero and creating a residual graph `G'`

with the same vertices and edges as the original graph `G`

. We also initialize the capacities of the edges in the residual graph to be the same as the capacities in the original graph.

**Find an augmenting path**: We then find an augmenting path `P`

in the residual graph from the source city to the destination city using a depth-first search or a breadth-first search.

**Augment the flow**: If we find an augmenting path, we find the minimum capacity `c`

along the path, and augment the flow `f`

by `c`

. We also update the capacities of the edges in the residual graph along the path by subtracting `c`

from the forward edges and adding `c`

to the reverse edges.

**Repeat**: We continue finding augmenting paths and augmenting the flow until no more augmenting paths can be found in the residual graph.

**Return the maximum flow**: Finally, we return the maximum flow `f`

as the maximum amount of goods that can be transported from the source city to the destination city through the transportation network.

## Actual Code Examples

Here's a Python implementation of the Ford-Fulkerson algorithm for finding the maximum flow in a network:

```
from collections import defaultdict
def max_flow(graph, source, sink):
# Create the residual graph and initialize capacities
residual_graph = defaultdict(dict)
for u, neighbors in graph.items():
for v, capacity in neighbors.items():
residual_graph[u][v] = capacity
residual_graph[v][u] = 0
# Initialize the flow to zero
flow = 0
# Find an augmenting path using depth-first search
def dfs(u, path, visited):
if u == sink:
return path
visited.add(u)
for v, capacity in residual_graph[u].items():
if capacity > 0 and v not in visited:
result = dfs(v, path + [(u, v)], visited)
if result:
return result
return None
# Continue finding augmenting paths and augmenting the flow
while True:
path = dfs(source, [], set())
if not path:
break
min_capacity = min(residual_graph[u][v] for u, v in path)
for u, v in path:
residual_graph[u][v] -= min_capacity
residual_graph[v][u] += min_capacity
flow += min_capacity
return flow
# Example usage
graph = {
'A': {'B': 5, 'C': 10},
'B': {'D': 5},
'C': {'B': 5, 'D': 10},
'D': {'E': 15},
'E': {}
}
source = 'A'
sink = 'E'
print(max_flow(graph, source, sink)) # Output: 15
```

## Explaining the Solution with Intuitions and Analogies

The Ford-Fulkerson algorithm can be intuitively understood as a process of iteratively finding and augmenting paths in the network to increase the flow from the source to the destination. In each iteration, the algorithm finds a path with available capacity in the residual graph, which represents the remaining capacities in the network after considering the current flow. The algorithm then augments the flow along the path by the minimum capacity along the path, and updates the capacities in the residual graph accordingly.

The algorithm can be thought of as a "greedy" approach that tries to increase the flow as much as possible in each iteration. However, unlike many greedy algorithms, the Ford-Fulkerson algorithm is guaranteed to find the optimal maximum flow, because it terminates when no more augmenting paths can be found, which means that all paths in the residual graph have reached their capacity constraints.

## Applying the Solution to Other Real-world Problems

The Ford-Fulkerson algorithm can be applied to other real-world problems that involve finding the maximum flow in a network with capacity constraints. For example, we can use the algorithm to find the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted in a telecommunication network, the maximum amount of water that can be supplied in a water distribution system, or the maximum number of passengers that can be transported in a public transportation network. The key is to represent the problem as a directed graph with capacity constraints on its edges, and then apply the Ford-Fulkerson algorithm to find the maximum flow from the source to the destination in the graph.