Path Finding Star Power 🤩

Recently, I had the pleasure of taking a course in Graph Theory from the lovely Professor Reuven Hodges at the University of Kansas. As a capstone of the course, I was tasked with an independent project that involved the following:

For my project, I used it as an excuse to finally get acquainted with the A* algorithm. A* is a heuristic algorithm for finding the minimum cost path between two vertices in a directed, weighted graph. Therefore, the paper I chose was "A Formal Basis for the Heuristic Determination of Minimum Cost Paths" by Hart, Nilsson, and Raphel which is the original paper that proposed and proved A*.

If you are interested:

My implementation of A* is also capable of of producing animations of the algorithm being run as it finds the shortest path using 3Blue1Brown's Manim library. For my talk, I rendered a basic example using the cycle of six vertices with random weights and heuristic values as well as a more complex example. For the latter, I am modeling a road trip from Lawrence, KS to Bartlesville, OK constrained to only use specific highways. The edge weights use the driving distance between cities on Google Maps, and the heuristics were calculated by measuring the distance between cities in miles using Google Earth Pro.