Sublinear Search Spaces for Shortest Path Planning in Grid and Road Networks
Keywords:bounded growth, contraction hierarchies, transit nodes, hub labels
Shortest path planning is a fundamental building block in many applications. Hence developing efficient methods for computing shortest paths in e.g. road or grid networks is an important challenge. The most successful techniques for fast query answering rely on preprocessing. But for many of these techniques it is not fully understood why they perform so remarkably well and theoretical justification for the empirical results is missing. An attempt to explain the excellent practical performance of preprocessing based techniques on road networks (as transit nodes, hub labels, or contraction hierarchies) in a sound theoretical way are parametrized analyses, e.g., considering the highway dimension or skeleton dimension of a graph. But these parameters tend to be large (order of Θ(√n)) when the network contains grid-like substructures — which inarguably is the case for real-world road networks around the globe. In this paper, we use the very intuitive notion of bounded growth graphs to describe road networks and also grid graphs. We show that this model suffices to prove sublinear search spaces for the three above mentioned state-of-the-art shortest path planning techniques. For graphs with a large highway or skeleton dimension, our results turn out to be superior. Furthermore, our preprocessing methods are close to the ones used in practice and only require randomized polynomial time.