Woodstock Blog

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[Fundamental] A-Star Search


A* is a computer algorithm that is widely used in pathfinding and graph traversal.

It uses a knowledge-plus-heuristic cost function like this:

f (n) = g(n) + h(n)

f (n): estimated total cost of path through n to goal

g(x) = past path-cost function

h(x) = future path-cost function, which is an admissible “heuristic estimate” of the distance from x to the goal

What sets A* apart from a greedy best-first search is that it also takes the distance already traveled into account.


Maintains a priority queue (lower f(x) means higher priority). At each step, node with the lowest f(x) value is removed from the queue, and neighbors are added to the queue.

This continues until a goal node has a lower f value than any node in the queue. Goal found!

Relationship with Dijkstra

Dijkstra is a special case for A* (when the heuristics is 0).

Illustration (A-star):

Illustration (Dijkstra’s algorithm):