In computer science, A* (pronounced as “A star”) is a computer algorithm that is widely used in pathfinding and graph traversal, the process of plotting an efficiently directed path between multiple points, called “nodes”. It enjoys widespread use due to its performance and accuracy. However, in practical travel-routing systems, it is generally outperformed by algorithms which can pre-process the graph to attain better performance, although other work has found A* to be superior to other approaches.
Peter Hart, Nils Nilsson and Bertram Raphael of Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) first described the algorithm in 1968. It is an extension of Edsger Dijkstra’s 1959 algorithm. A* achieves better performance by using heuristics to guide its search.
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