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Wikipedia Description

In computer science, A* (pronounced as "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 multiple points, called nodes. Noted for its performance and accuracy, it enjoys widespread use. 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.In 1968, AI researcher Nils Nilsson was trying to improve the path planning done by Shakey the Robot, a prototype robot that could navigate through a room containing obstacles. This path-finding algorithm, that Nilsson called A1, was a faster version of the then best known method, Dijkstra's algorithm, for finding shortest paths in graphs. Bertram Raphael suggested some significant improvements upon this algorithm, calling the revised version A2. Then Peter E. Hart introduced an argument that established A2, with only minor changes, to be the best possible algorithm for finding shortest paths. Hart, Nilsson and Raphael then jointly developed a proof that the revised A2 algorithm was optimal for finding shortest paths under certain well-defined conditions.*_search_algorith...

graph traversal, pathfinding