Weighted graphs
Table of contents
Weighted Graph Algorithms
In a weighted graph, each edge is assigned a value (weight). For example, the edge in a road network might be assigned a value for drive time [1, P. 146].
Weighted graphs are useful for modelling realworld problems where different paths have an associated cost, but they introduce extra complexity compared to unweighted graphs [1, P. 191].
Minimum Spanning Trees
A spanning tree of a graph is a subset of edges that form a tree connecting all vertices in . A minimum spanning tree is a spanning tree with the lowest possible sum of all edges [1, P. 192].
Minimum spanning trees are useful for problems where you want to connect points together using the least amount of material. For example, connecting homes by the least amount of pipe [1, P. 192].
Prim’s algorithm
Prim’s algorithm is a greedy algorithm that starts from a single vertex and grows the rest of the tree one edge at a time until all vertices are included in the tree. At each step, Prim’s algorithm chooses the lowestweight edge available from the current tree to an unvisited vertex [1, P. 192].
Note: A greedy algorithm chooses its next move by making the optimal decision at each step [1, P. 192].
See the pseudocode for Prim’s algorithm:
PrimMST(G)
Select an arbitrary vertex s to start the tree from.
While (there are still nontree vertices)
Select the edge of minimum weight between a tree and nontree vertex
Add the selected edge and vertex to the tree Tprim.
One implementation of Prim’s algorithm is to keep track of which vertices are in the tree (intree
in the following code), and to keep track of the minimum distance from the tree for each vertex not in the tree (distance
):
void prim(graph *g, int start) {
int i; /* counter */
edgenode *p; /* temporary pointer */
bool intree[MAXV+1]; /* is the vertex in the tree yet? */
int distance[MAXV+1]; /* cost of adding to tree */
int v; /* current vertex to process */
int w; /* candidate next vertex */
int weight; /* edge weight */
int dist; /* best current distance from start */
// Reset value of each vertex
for (i = 1; i <= g>nvertices; i++) {
intree[i] = FALSE;
distance[i] = MAX_INT;
parent[i] = 1;
}
// Distance from start is 0, v is start
distance[start] = 0;
v = start;
while (intree[v] == FALSE) {
intree[v] = TRUE;
p = g>edges[v];
// Loop over each edge node (y) for current vertex
// If the weight of the edge is less than the current distance[v]
// set the parent of y to be v, set the distance of y to be the weight
while (p != NULL) {
w = p>y;
weight = p>weight;
if ((distance[w] > weight) && (intree[w] == FALSE)) {
distance[w] = weight;
parent[w] = v;
}
p = p>next;
}
v = 1;
dist = MAXINT;
for (i = 1; i <= g>nvertices; i++) {
if ((intree[i] == FALSE) && (dist > distance[i])) {
dist = distance[i];
v = i;
}
}
}
}
An improved implementation of Prim’s algorithm uses a priority queue.
Kruskal’s Algorithm
Kruskal’s algorithm is another greedy algorithm to find the minimum spanning tree.
The algorithm works by grouping vertices in connected components. Each vertex begins as its own connected component. The algorithm first sorts the edges by weight. It then iterates over each edge starting from the lowest weight, and tests whether the vertices of the edge are in the same connected component. If they aren’t, then the edge can be added. The two connected components are then merged into one [1, P. 196].
KruskalMST(G)
Put the edges in a priority queue ordered by weight.
count = 0
while (count < n − 1) do
get next edge (v,w)
if (component (v) ≠ component(w))
add to Tkruskal
merge component(v) and component(w)
Checking that vertices are in the same components can be done in by using a unionfind data structure. This means the running time depends on the sort. If the sort is then the algorithm is (where is the number of edges) [1, P. 197].
The following implementation uses a unionfind:
bool same_component(set_union *s, int s1, int s2) {
return find(s,s1) == find(s,s2);
}
void kruskal(graph *g) {
int i; /* counter */
set_union s; /* set union data structure */
edge_pair e[MAXV+1]; /* array of edges data structure */
bool weight_compare();
set_union_init(&s, g>nvertices);
to_edge_array(g, e); /* sort edges by increasing cost */
qsort(&e,g>nedges, sizeof(edge_pair), weight_compare);
for (i = 0; i < g>nedges; i++) {
if (!same_component(s, e[i].x, e[i].y)) {
printf("edge (%d,%d) in MST\n", e[i].x, e[i].y);
union_sets(&s, e[i].x, e[i].y);
}
}
}
Minimum spanning tree variations
There are many variations of minimum spanning tree:

Maximum spanning tree: creates the maximum value path [1, P. 201].

Minimum product spanning tree: the minimum spanning tree when multiplying edge weights. This can be determined by running minimum weight spanning tree algorithms on the log of each path (since ) [1, P. 201].

Minimum bottleneck spanning tree: a tree that minimizes the maximum edge weight. Every minimum spanning tree has this property. [1, P. 201]
Shortest paths
The shortest path problem is the problem of finding the shortest path between two vertices so that the sum of the edge weights is the minimum possible.
Dijkstra’s algorithm
Dijkstra’s algorithm is a pathfinding algorithm.
The algorithm works by picking a new path from one of the discovered vertices to a new vertex. The new vertex is selected based on the total cost of the path to the new vertex [1, P. 207].
Dijkstra’s algorithm in pseudocode:
ShortestPathDijkstra(G,s,t)
known = {s}
for i = 1 to n, dist[i] = ∞
for each edge (s,v), dist[v] = w(s,v)
last = s
while (last != t)
select vnext, the unknown vertex minimizing dist[v]
for each edge (vnext,x), dist[x] = min[dist[x],dist[vnext] + w(vnext,x)]
last = vnext
known = known ∪ {vnext}
Dijkstra’s algorithm is very similar to Prim’s algorithm. In Prim’s algorithm, only the cost of the next edge is considered. In Dijkstra’s, it is the combined cost of the next edge and the cost of the path up to that vertex that is considered. [1, P. 207]
dijkstra(graph *g, int start) {
int i; /* counter */
edgenode *p; /* temporary pointer */
bool intree[MAXV+1]; /* is the vertex in the tree yet? */
int distance[MAXV+1]; /* distance vertex is from start */
int v; /* current vertex to process */
int w; /* candidate next vertex */
int weight; /* edge weight */
int dist; /* best current distance from start */
for (i=1; i<=g>nvertices; i++) {
intree[i] = FALSE;
distance[i] = MAXINT;
parent[i] = 1;
}
distance[start] = 0;
v = start;
while (intree[v] == FALSE) {
intree[v] = TRUE;
p = g>edges[v];
while (p != NULL) {
w = p>y;
weight = p>weight;
if (distance[w] > (distance[v]+weight)) {
distance[w] = distance[v]+weight;
parent[w] = v;
}
p = p>next;
}
v = 1;
dist = MAXINT;
for (i=1; i<=g>nvertices; i++) {
if ((intree[i] == FALSE) && (dist > distance[i])) {
dist = distance[i];
v = i;
}
}
}
}
The time complexity of Dijkstra’s algorithm is .
Note: Dijkstra’s algorithm is only correct when run on graphs with nonnegative edges [1, P. 210].
You could run Dijkstra’s algorithm on a graph with weighted vertices by converting the vertex costs to edge costs, before running an unmodified Dijkstra’s over the new graph [1, P. 210].
Allpairs shortest path problem
The allpairs shortest path problem involves determining the shortest path between each pair of vertices in a graph.
This could be solved by running Dijkstra’s algorithm times. An alternative is the Floyd–Warshall algorithm.
Floyd–Warshall algorithm
The Floyd–Warshall algorithm uses dynamic programming to calculate the shortest path between each pair of vertices in a graph. Unlike Dijkstra’s algorithm, negative edges are allowed [1, P. 210].
The algorithm works best on an adjacency matrix [1, P. 210].
The adjacency matrix can be represented as a struct:
typedef struct {
int weight[MAXV+1][MAXV+1];
int nvertices;
} adjacency_matrix;
For unweighted graphs, an edge between two vertices is often represented as a 1 in weight[x][y]
and nonedges are represented as a 1.
For weighted graphs, an edge can be represented as the weight of the edge at weight[x][y]
, and nonedges as infinity [1, P. 210].
The Floyd–Warshall algorithm works by storing the cost from edge in weight[x][y]
. The algorithm compares all possible paths through a graph between each edge by iterating over them. On each iteration, it checks the value of weight[x][y]
with weight[x][k] + weight[k][y]
. If the combined value of the edges and are lower than , then the value stored at is replaced with the path from to .
You can see an implementation of the algorithm:
void floyd(adjacency_matrix *g) {
int x,y;
int k;
int through_k;
for (k = 1; k <= g>nvertices; k++) {
for (x = 1; x <= g>nvertices; x++) {
for (y = 1; y <= g>nvertices; y++) {
through_k = g>weight[x][k] + g>weight[k][y];
if (through_k < g>weight[x][y]) {
g>weight[x][y] = through_k;
}
}
}
}
}
The Floyd–Warshall algorithm runs in , the same as running Dijkstra’s algorithm on each node. But Floyd’s often has better performance than Dijkstra’s in practice because the loops are so tight [1, P. 211].
See a video demonstration of the Floyd–Warshall algorithm.
References
 [1] S. Skiena, The Algorithm Design Manual, 2nd ed. Springer, 2008.