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Introduction to Dijkstra's Algorithm

Dijkstra's algorithm is a fundamental algorithm used in computer science for finding the shortest paths between nodes in a weighted graph. It's named after its inventor, Dutch computer scientist Edsger W. Dijkstra, and is particularly useful in scenarios where finding the shortest path is crucial.

How Dijkstra's Algorithm Works

  1. Starting Point: Dijkstra's algorithm begins at a designated starting point, typically called the "source" node.

  2. Initializing Distances: It initializes the distance to all nodes from the source node to infinity, except for the source node itself, which is set to zero.

  3. Exploring Neighbors: It systematically explores the neighboring nodes of the current node. For each neighboring node, it calculates the distance from the source node through the current node.

  4. Updating Distances: If the newly calculated distance to a node is shorter than the previously known distance, Dijkstra's algorithm updates the distance and records the current node as the "previous node" for the shortest path.

  5. Priority Queue: To efficiently select the next node to explore, Dijkstra's algorithm typically uses a priority queue. Nodes are prioritized based on their current distance from the source node.

  6. Visiting Nodes: Dijkstra's algorithm continues this process, visiting nodes and updating distances until it has visited all reachable nodes or until the destination node is reached.

  7. Backtracking: After reaching the destination node, Dijkstra's algorithm backtracks from the destination node to the source node using the recorded "previous node" information, thereby determining the shortest path.


  • Routing Algorithms: Dijkstra's algorithm is widely used in network routing protocols to find the shortest path between nodes in computer networks.
  • Transportation Networks: It can optimize transportation routes by finding the shortest path between locations, considering factors such as distance or time.
  • Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles: Dijkstra's algorithm can assist in path planning for robots and autonomous vehicles, ensuring efficient and safe navigation.

Dijkstra's algorithm is a powerful tool with various applications in computer science, transportation, and engineering.

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