RESOURCES: You Can Get There From Here

Science  27 Aug 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5688, pp. 1219b
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5688.1219b

Although its name conjures up fallen arches and jet lag, the traveling salesman problem (TSP) is a mathematical conundrum that requires calculating the cheapest route among a selection of cities. The problem intrigues mathematicians because it can provide insight into theoretical questions and help with a host of practical puzzles, from manufacturing microchips to mapping the genome. Uncover more at Solving TSPs, hosted by Georgia Tech University in Atlanta. Newbies can trace the idea's development—its origins are uncertain, but it inspired a parlor game in the 1800s—or peruse images of famous or attractive shortest routes. Experts will find free software for cracking problems. In background, the optimal route for visiting 666 of the world's most famous sights.

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