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  1. Getting Started with Algorithm
    What is an Algorithm?
  2. Characteristics of Algorithm
    1 Topic
  3. Analysis Framework
  4. Performance Analysis
    3 Topics
  5. Mathematical Analysis
    2 Topics
  6. Sorting Algorithm
    Sorting Algorithm
    10 Topics
  7. Searching Algorithm
    6 Topics
  8. Fundamental of Data Structures
  9. Queues
  10. Graphs
  11. Trees
  12. Sets
  13. Dictionaries
  14. Divide and Conquer
    General Method
  15. Binary Search
  16. Recurrence Equation for Divide and Conquer
  17. Finding the Maximum and Minimum
  18. Merge Sort
  19. Quick Sort
  20. Stassen’s Matrix Multiplication
  21. Advantages and Disadvantages of Divide and Conquer
  22. Decrease and Conquer
    Insertion Sort
  23. Topological Sort
  24. Greedy Method
    General Method
  25. Coin Change Problem
  26. Knapsack Problem
  27. Job Sequencing with Deadlines
  28. Minimum Cost Spanning Trees
    2 Topics
  29. Single Source Shortest Paths
    1 Topic
  30. Optimal Tree Problem
    1 Topic
  31. Transform and Conquer Approach
    1 Topic
  32. Dynamic Programming
    General Method with Examples
  33. Multistage Graphs
  34. Transitive Closure
    1 Topic
  35. All Pairs Shortest Paths
    6 Topics
  36. Backtracking
    General Method
  37. N-Queens Problem
  38. Sum of Subsets problem
  39. Graph Coloring
  40. Hamiltonian Cycles
  41. Branch and Bound
    2 Topics
  42. 0/1 Knapsack problem
    2 Topics
  43. NP-Complete and NP-Hard Problems
    1 Topic
Lesson 35, Topic 5
In Progress

Travelling Sales Person Problem

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We have seen how to apply dynamic programming to a subset selection problem (0/1 knapsack). Now we turn our attention to a permutation problem. Note that permutation problems usually are much harder to solve than subset problems as there are n! different permutations of n objects whereas there are only 2^n different subsets of n objects(n! > 2^n). Let G = (V,E) be a directed graph with edge costs ij. The variable ij is defined such that Cij > 0 for all i and j and Cij = infinity. The cost of a tour is the sum of the cost of the edges on the tour. The traveling sales person problem is to find a tour of minimum cost.

The traveling sales person problem finds application in a variety of situations. Suppose we have to route a postal van to pick up mail from mail boxes located at n different sites.An n + 1 vertex graph can be used to represent the situation. One vertex represents the post office from which the postal van starts and to which it must return.Edge(i,j) is assigned a cost equal to the distance from site i to site j. The route taken by the postal van is a tour, and we are interested in finding a tour of minimum length.

Given a set of cities and distance between every pair of cities, the problem is to find the shortest possible route that visits every city exactly once and returns to the starting point.
Note the difference between Hamiltonian Cycle and TSP. The Hamiltonian cycle problem is to find if there exist a tour that visits every city exactly once. Here we know that Hamiltonian Tour exists (because the graph is complete) and in fact many such tours exist, the problem is to find a minimum weight Hamiltonian Cycle.


For example, consider the graph shown in figure above. A TSP tour in the graph is 1-2-4-3-1. The cost of the tour is 10+25+30+15 which is 80.

The problem is a famous NP hard problem. There is no polynomial time know solution for this problem.

Following are different solutions for the traveling salesman problem.

Naive Solution:

1) Consider city 1 as the starting and ending point.
2) Generate all (n-1)! Permutations of cities.
3) Calculate cost of every permutation and keep track of minimum cost permutation.
4) Return the permutation with minimum cost.

Time Complexity: Θ(n!)

Dynamic Programming:

Let the given set of vertices be {1, 2, 3, 4,….n}. Let us consider 1 as starting and ending point of output. For every other vertex i (other than 1), we find the minimum cost path with 1 as the starting point, i as the ending point and all vertices appearing exactly once. Let the cost of this path be cost(i), the cost of corresponding Cycle would be cost(i) + dist(i, 1) where dist(i, 1) is the distance from i to 1. Finally, we return the minimum of all [cost(i) + dist(i, 1)] values. This looks simple so far. Now the question is how to get cost(i)?
To calculate cost(i) using Dynamic Programming, we need to have some recursive relation in terms of sub-problems. Let us define a term C(S, i) be the cost of the minimum cost path visiting each vertex in set S exactly once, starting at 1 and ending at i.
We start with all subsets of size 2 and calculate C(S, i) for all subsets where S is the subset, then we calculate C(S, i) for all subsets S of size 3 and so on. Note that 1 must be present in every subset.

If size of S is 2, then S must be {1, i},
 C(S, i) = dist(1, i) 
Else if size of S is greater than 2.
 C(S, i) = min { C(S-{i}, j) + dis(j, i)} where j belongs to S, j != i and j != 1.

For a set of size n, we consider n-2 subsets each of size n-1 such that all subsets don’t have nth in them.
Using the above recurrence relation, we can write dynamic programming based solution. There are at most O(n*2n) subproblems, and each one takes linear time to solve. The total running time is therefore O(n2*2n). The time complexity is much less than O(n!), but still exponential. Space required is also exponential. So this approach is also infeasible even for slightly higher number of vertices.


The least distant path to reach a vertex j from i is always to reach j directly from i, rather than through some other vertex k (or vertices), i.e., dis(i, j) is always less than or equal to dis(i, k) + dist(k, j). The Triangle-Inequality holds in many practical situations.
When the cost function satisfies the triangle inequality, we can design an approximate algorithm for TSP that returns a tour whose cost is never more than twice the cost of an optimal tour. The idea is to use Minimum Spanning Tree (MST). Following is the MST based algorithm.

1) Let 1 be the starting and ending point for salesman.
2) Construct MST from with 1 as root using Prim’s Algorithm.
3) List vertices visited in preorder walk of the constructed MST and add 1 at the end.

Let us consider the following example. The first diagram is the given graph. The second diagram shows MST constructed with 1 as root. The preorder traversal of MST is 1-2-4-3. Adding 1 at the end gives 1-2-4-3-1 which is the output of this algorithm.


In this case, the approximate algorithm produces the optimal tour, but it may not produce optimal tour in all cases.

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