A pair of computer scientists have solved a riddle that Reddit has been fighting over for years on the longest straight line sea path.
Computer scientists have settled an argument that started on Reddit years ago, discovering the longest straight line path you can sail around the world without running into land. And the answer is pretty amazing, even if it is totally useless to science.
The computer scientists, one from Ireland and the other from India, were able to develop an algorithm that could calculate not only the longest straight line sea path, but also land path. They used the branch and bound technique, which involves having the computer follow all potential solutions or “branches,” and then checking them one after another.
The path they found stretched a staggering 32,089.7 kilometers, from the eastern edge of Russia, across the Pacific, around South America and then Africa and all the way to the shores of northwestern India. The longest land path stretches 11,241.1 kilometers and passes through 15 countries in Asia and Europe.
“There has been some interest recently in determining the longest distance one can sail for on the earth without hitting land, as well as in the converse problem of determining the longest distance one could drive for on the earth without encountering a major body of water,” states the abstract from the researchers, Rohan Chabukswar and Kushal Mukherjee. “In its basic form, this is an optimisation problem, rendered chaotic by the presence of islands and lakes, and indeed the fractal nature of the coasts. In this paper we present a methodology for calculating the two paths using the branch-and-bound algorithm.”
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