A* search algorithm
In computer science, A* (pronounced "A star" ( listen)) is a computer algorithm that is widely used in pathfinding and graph traversal, the process of plotting an efficiently traversable path between points, called nodes. Noted for its performance and accuracy, it enjoys widespread use.
Process
Like all informed search algorithms, it first searches the routes that appear to be most likely to lead towards the goal. What sets A* apart from a greedy best-first search is that it also takes the distance already traveled into account; the part of the heuristic is the cost from the starting point, not simply the local cost from the previously expanded node.
Starting with the initial node, it maintains a priority queue of nodes to be traversed, known as the open set. The lower for a given node , the higher its priority. At each step of the algorithm, the node with the lowest value is removed from the queue, the and values of its neighbors are updated accordingly, and these neighbors are added to the queue. The algorithm continues until a goal node has a lower value than any node in the queue (or until the queue is empty). (Goal nodes may be passed over multiple times if there remain other nodes with lower values, as they may lead to a shorter path to a goal.) The value of the goal is then the length of the shortest path, since at the goal is zero in an admissible heuristic.
The algorithm described so far gives us only the length of the shortest path. To find the actual sequence of steps, the algorithm can be easily revised so that each node on the path keeps track of its predecessor. After this algorithm is run, the starting node will point to its predecessor, and so on, until some node's predecessor is the goal node.
Additionally, if the heuristic is monotonic (or consistent, see below), a closed set of nodes already traversed may be used to make the search more efficient.
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Properties
Like breadth-first search, A*...