Report Number: CS-TR-79-734
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Computer Science
Title: Fast algorithms for solving path problems
Author: Tarjan, Robert Endre
Date: April 1979
Abstract: Let G = (V,E) be a directed graph with a distinguished source vertex s. The single-source path expression problem is to find, for each vertex v, a regular expression P(s,v) which represents the set of all paths in G from s to v. A solution to this problem can be used to solve shortest path problems, solve sparse systems of linear equations, and carry out global flow analysis. We describe a method to compute path expressions by dividing G into components, computing path expressions on the components by Gaussian elimination, and combining the solutions. This method requires O(m $\alpha$(m,n)) time on a reducible flow graph, where n is the number of vertices in G, m is the number of edges in G, and $\alpha$ is a functional inverse of Ackermann's function. The method makes use of an algorithm for evaluating functions defined on paths in trees. A simplified version of the algorithm, which runs in O(m log n) time on reducible flow graphs, is quite easy to implement and efficient in practice.