This tutorial shows you how to implement a best-first search algorithm in Python for a grid and a graph. Best-first search is an informed search algorithm as it uses an heuristic to guide the search, it uses an estimation of the cost to the goal as the heuristic.

Best-first search starts in an initial start node and updates neighbor nodes with an estimation of the cost to the goal node, it selects the neighbor with the lowest cost and continues to expand nodes until it reaches the goal node. Best-first search favors nodes that are close to the goal node, this can be implemented by using a priority queue or by sorting the list of open nodes in ascending order. The heuristic should not overestimate the cost to the goal, a heuristic that is closer to the actual cost is better as long as it doesn’t overestimate the cost to the goal.

Best-first search is complete and it will find the shortest path to the goal. A good heuristic can make the search fast, but it may take a long time and consume a lot of memory in a large search space. The time complexity is **O(n)** in a grid and **O(b^d)** in a graph/tree with a branching factor (b) and a depth (d). The branching factor is the average number of neighbor nodes that can be expanded from each node and the depth is the average number of levels in a graph/tree.

## Grid problem (maze)

I have created a simple maze (download it) with walls, a start (@) and a goal ($). Best-first search is used to find the shortest path from the start node to the goal node by using the distance to the goal node as a heuristic. The distance to the goal node is calculated as the manhattan distance from a node to the goal node.

```
# This class represents a node
class Node:
# Initialize the class
def __init__(self, position:(), parent:()):
self.position = position
self.parent = parent
self.g = 0 # Distance to start node
self.h = 0 # Distance to goal node
self.f = 0 # Total cost
# Compare nodes
def __eq__(self, other):
return self.position == other.position
# Sort nodes
def __lt__(self, other):
return self.f < other.f
# Print node
def __repr__(self):
return ('({0},{1})'.format(self.position, self.f))
# Draw a grid
def draw_grid(map, width, height, spacing=2, **kwargs):
for y in range(height):
for x in range(width):
print('%%-%ds' % spacing % draw_tile(map, (x, y), kwargs), end='')
print()
# Draw a tile
def draw_tile(map, position, kwargs):
# Get the map value
value = map.get(position)
# Check if we should print the path
if 'path' in kwargs and position in kwargs['path']: value = '+'
# Check if we should print start point
if 'start' in kwargs and position == kwargs['start']: value = '@'
# Check if we should print the goal point
if 'goal' in kwargs and position == kwargs['goal']: value = '$'
# Return a tile value
return value
# Best-first search
def best_first_search(map, start, end):
# Create lists for open nodes and closed nodes
open = []
closed = []
# Create a start node and an goal node
start_node = Node(start, None)
goal_node = Node(end, None)
# Add the start node
open.append(start_node)
# Loop until the open list is empty
while len(open) > 0:
# Sort the open list to get the node with the lowest cost first
open.sort()
# Get the node with the lowest cost
current_node = open.pop(0)
# Add the current node to the closed list
closed.append(current_node)
# Check if we have reached the goal, return the path
if current_node == goal_node:
path = []
while current_node != start_node:
path.append(current_node.position)
current_node = current_node.parent
#path.append(start)
# Return reversed path
return path[::-1]
# Unzip the current node position
(x, y) = current_node.position
# Get neighbors
neighbors = [(x-1, y), (x+1, y), (x, y-1), (x, y+1)]
# Loop neighbors
for next in neighbors:
# Get value from map
map_value = map.get(next)
# Check if the node is a wall
if(map_value == '#'):
continue
# Create a neighbor node
neighbor = Node(next, current_node)
# Check if the neighbor is in the closed list
if(neighbor in closed):
continue
# Generate heuristics (Manhattan distance)
neighbor.g = abs(neighbor.position[0] - start_node.position[0]) + abs(neighbor.position[1] - start_node.position[1])
neighbor.h = abs(neighbor.position[0] - goal_node.position[0]) + abs(neighbor.position[1] - goal_node.position[1])
neighbor.f = neighbor.h
# Check if neighbor is in open list and if it has a lower f value
if(add_to_open(open, neighbor) == True):
# Everything is green, add neighbor to open list
open.append(neighbor)
# Return None, no path is found
return None
# Check if a neighbor should be added to open list
def add_to_open(open, neighbor):
for node in open:
if (neighbor == node and neighbor.f >= node.f):
return False
return True
# The main entry point for this module
def main():
# Get a map (grid)
map = {}
chars = ['c']
start = None
end = None
width = 0
height = 0
# Open a file
fp = open('data\\maze.in', 'r')
# Loop until there is no more lines
while len(chars) > 0:
# Get chars in a line
chars = [str(i) for i in fp.readline().strip()]
# Calculate the width
width = len(chars) if width == 0 else width
# Add chars to map
for x in range(len(chars)):
map[(x, height)] = chars[x]
if(chars[x] == '@'):
start = (x, height)
elif(chars[x] == '$'):
end = (x, height)
# Increase the height of the map
if(len(chars) > 0):
height += 1
# Close the file pointer
fp.close()
# Find the closest path from start(@) to end($)
path = best_first_search(map, start, end)
print()
print(path)
print()
draw_grid(map, width, height, spacing=1, path=path, start=start, goal=end)
print()
print('Steps to goal: {0}'.format(len(path)))
print()
# Tell python to run main method
if __name__ == "__main__": main()
```

```
#################################################################################
#.#...#....$....#...................#...#.........#.......#.............#.......#
#.#.#.#.###+###.#########.#########.#.#####.#####.#####.#.#.#######.###.#.#####.#
#...#.....#+++#.#.........#.#.....#.#...#...#...#.......#.#.#.......#.#.#.#...#.#
#############+#.#.#########.#.###.#.###.#.###.#.#.#######.###.#######.#.#.#.#.#.#
#+++++++++++#+#...#.#.....#...#...#...#.#.#.#.#...#...#.......#.......#.#.#.#.#.#
#+#########+#+#####.#.#.#.#.###.#####.#.#.#.#.#####.#.#########.###.###.###.#.#.#
#+#........+#+++#...#.#.#.#...#.....#.#.#.#...#.#...#.......#.....#.#...#...#...#
#+#########+#.#+###.#.#.#####.###.#.#.#.#.#.###.#.#########.#####.#.#.###.#####.#
#+#+++++++#+#.#+++#...#.#.....#.#.#.#...#.#.....#.#.....#.#...#...#.......#...#.#
#+#+#####+#+#.###+#####.#.#####.#.#.###.#.#######.###.#.#.###.#.###########.#.#.#
#+++#+++#+#+#...#+++++#.#.......#.#.#...#.....#...#...#.....#.#.#...#...#...#...#
#####+#+#+#+#########+#.#######.#.###.#######.#.###.#########.###.#.#.#.#.#######
#+++++#+++#+#+++++++++#.......#.#...#.#.#.....#.#.....#.......#...#.#.#.#.#.....#
#+#########+#+#########.###.###.###.#.#.#.###.#.#.###.#.#######.###.#.###.#.###.#
#+++#.#+++++#+++#.....#.#.#...#.#.#.....#...#.#.#...#.#...#...#...#.#.#...#...#.#
###+#.#+#####.#+#.#.###.#.###.#.#.#####.###.###.#####.###.#.#.#.###.#.#.#####.#.#
#+++#+++#.....#+#.#.#...#...#.....#...#.#...#...........#.#.#...#...#.......#.#.#
#+###+#########+#.#.#.###.#.#####.#.#.###.###.###########.#.#####.#########.###.#
#+#..+++++++++++#.#.......#.#...#.#.#...#.#...#.#.......#.......#.#...#.....#...#
#+#.#############.#########.#.#.###.###.#.#.###.#.#####.#.#######.#.#.#.#####.#.#
#+#.#+++++++++++#.#.#.#.....#.#.....#...#.#.....#...#.#.#.#.#...#.#.#.#.#.....#.#
#+###+#########+#.#.#.#######.#######.###.#####.###.#.#.#.#.###.#.#.#.#.#####.#.#
#+++++#+++#+++++#...#.........#.....#...#.....#...#...#.#.....#.#...#.#.#.....#.#
#.#####+#+#+#######.###########.#######.#.#######.###.#.###.###.#####.#.#.#####.#
#.....#+#+#+++#...#.#+++++++#.........#.#...#.......#.#.#...#...#.....#.#.#...#.#
#######+#+###+#.###.#+#####+#.#####.###.#.#.#.#######.#.#####.###.#####.#.###.#.#
#+++++++#+#+++#.....#+#...#+#...#.#.....#.#.#.#.#.....#...#...#...#.....#...#.#.#
#+#######+#+#.#####.#+###.#+###.#.#######.#.#.#.#.#######.#.###.#.###.#####.#.#.#
#+#.#+++++#+#.#+++#.#+++#.#+++#...#.#...#.#...#.#.....#.#...#...#...#.......#...#
#+#.#+#####+#.#+#+#####+#.###+###.#.#.#.#.#####.#####.#.#####.#####.#########.###
#+#..+#..+++#.#+#+#+++#+++#.#+#...#...#.#.#...#.....#...#.#...#...#.....#...#.#.#
#+###+###+#.###+#+#+#+###+#.#+#.#######.#.#.#.#####.###.#.#.###.#.#####.###.#.#.#
#+++#+++#+#.#+++#+#+#+++#+#.#+#.#.......#...#.........#.#...#...#.#...#...#.#...#
#.#+###+#+#.#+###+#+###+#+#.#+#.###.###.###########.###.#.###.###.###.###.#.###.#
#.#+++#+#+#.#+++#+++#+++#+#.#+#.....#...#...#.....#.#...#.....#.....#.#...#...#.#
#.###+#+#+#####+#####+#.#+#.#+#######.###.#.#####.#.#.#############.#.#.###.#.#.#
#...#+#+++#+++#+++++#+#.#+#.#+#+++#...#.#.#.......#.#.#...#...#...#...#.#.#.#...#
###.#+#####+#+#####+#+###+#.#+#+#+#.###.#.#########.#.#.#.#.#.#.#.#####.#.#.#####
#...#+++++++#+++++++#+++++..#+++#+++++++@...........#...#...#...#.......#.......#
#################################################################################
Steps to goal: 339
```

## Graph problem

We have created a graph from a map in this problem, actual distances is used in the graph. The goal is to find the shortest path from one city to another city. We are using a Graph class and a Node class in the best-first search algorithm. We are using straight-line distances (air-travel distances) between cities as our heuristic, these distances will never overestimate the actual distances between cities.

```
# This class represent a graph
class Graph:
# Initialize the class
def __init__(self, graph_dict=None, directed=True):
self.graph_dict = graph_dict or {}
self.directed = directed
if not directed:
self.make_undirected()
# Create an undirected graph by adding symmetric edges
def make_undirected(self):
for a in list(self.graph_dict.keys()):
for (b, dist) in self.graph_dict[a].items():
self.graph_dict.setdefault(b, {})[a] = dist
# Add a link from A and B of given distance, and also add the inverse link if the graph is undirected
def connect(self, A, B, distance=1):
self.graph_dict.setdefault(A, {})[B] = distance
if not self.directed:
self.graph_dict.setdefault(B, {})[A] = distance
# Get neighbors or a neighbor
def get(self, a, b=None):
links = self.graph_dict.setdefault(a, {})
if b is None:
return links
else:
return links.get(b)
# Return a list of nodes in the graph
def nodes(self):
s1 = set([k for k in self.graph_dict.keys()])
s2 = set([k2 for v in self.graph_dict.values() for k2, v2 in v.items()])
nodes = s1.union(s2)
return list(nodes)
# This class represent a node
class Node:
# Initialize the class
def __init__(self, name:str, parent:str):
self.name = name
self.parent = parent
self.g = 0 # Distance to start node
self.h = 0 # Distance to goal node
self.f = 0 # Total cost
# Compare nodes
def __eq__(self, other):
return self.name == other.name
# Sort nodes
def __lt__(self, other):
return self.f < other.f
# Print node
def __repr__(self):
return ('({0},{1})'.format(self.position, self.f))
# Best-first search
def best_first_search(graph, heuristics, start, end):
# Create lists for open nodes and closed nodes
open = []
closed = []
# Create a start node and an goal node
start_node = Node(start, None)
goal_node = Node(end, None)
# Add the start node
open.append(start_node)
# Loop until the open list is empty
while len(open) > 0:
# Sort the open list to get the node with the lowest cost first
open.sort()
# Get the node with the lowest cost
current_node = open.pop(0)
# Add the current node to the closed list
closed.append(current_node)
# Check if we have reached the goal, return the path
if current_node == goal_node:
path = []
while current_node != start_node:
path.append(current_node.name + ': ' + str(current_node.g))
current_node = current_node.parent
path.append(start_node.name + ': ' + str(start_node.g))
# Return reversed path
return path[::-1]
# Get neighbours
neighbors = graph.get(current_node.name)
# Loop neighbors
for key, value in neighbors.items():
# Create a neighbor node
neighbor = Node(key, current_node)
# Check if the neighbor is in the closed list
if(neighbor in closed):
continue
# Calculate cost to goal
neighbor.g = current_node.g + graph.get(current_node.name, neighbor.name)
neighbor.h = heuristics.get(neighbor.name)
neighbor.f = neighbor.h
# Check if neighbor is in open list and if it has a lower f value
if(add_to_open(open, neighbor) == True):
# Everything is green, add neighbor to open list
open.append(neighbor)
# Return None, no path is found
return None
# Check if a neighbor should be added to open list
def add_to_open(open, neighbor):
for node in open:
if (neighbor == node and neighbor.f >= node.f):
return False
return True
# The main entry point for this module
def main():
# Create a graph
graph = Graph()
# Create graph connections (Actual distance)
graph.connect('Frankfurt', 'Wurzburg', 111)
graph.connect('Frankfurt', 'Mannheim', 85)
graph.connect('Wurzburg', 'Nurnberg', 104)
graph.connect('Wurzburg', 'Stuttgart', 140)
graph.connect('Wurzburg', 'Ulm', 183)
graph.connect('Mannheim', 'Nurnberg', 230)
graph.connect('Mannheim', 'Karlsruhe', 67)
graph.connect('Karlsruhe', 'Basel', 191)
graph.connect('Karlsruhe', 'Stuttgart', 64)
graph.connect('Nurnberg', 'Ulm', 171)
graph.connect('Nurnberg', 'Munchen', 170)
graph.connect('Nurnberg', 'Passau', 220)
graph.connect('Stuttgart', 'Ulm', 107)
graph.connect('Basel', 'Bern', 91)
graph.connect('Basel', 'Zurich', 85)
graph.connect('Bern', 'Zurich', 120)
graph.connect('Zurich', 'Memmingen', 184)
graph.connect('Memmingen', 'Ulm', 55)
graph.connect('Memmingen', 'Munchen', 115)
graph.connect('Munchen', 'Ulm', 123)
graph.connect('Munchen', 'Passau', 189)
graph.connect('Munchen', 'Rosenheim', 59)
graph.connect('Rosenheim', 'Salzburg', 81)
graph.connect('Passau', 'Linz', 102)
graph.connect('Salzburg', 'Linz', 126)
# Make graph undirected, create symmetric connections
graph.make_undirected()
# Create heuristics (straight-line distance, air-travel distance)
heuristics = {}
heuristics['Basel'] = 204
heuristics['Bern'] = 247
heuristics['Frankfurt'] = 215
heuristics['Karlsruhe'] = 137
heuristics['Linz'] = 318
heuristics['Mannheim'] = 164
heuristics['Munchen'] = 120
heuristics['Memmingen'] = 47
heuristics['Nurnberg'] = 132
heuristics['Passau'] = 257
heuristics['Rosenheim'] = 168
heuristics['Stuttgart'] = 75
heuristics['Salzburg'] = 236
heuristics['Wurzburg'] = 153
heuristics['Zurich'] = 157
heuristics['Ulm'] = 0
# Run search algorithm
path = best_first_search(graph, heuristics, 'Frankfurt', 'Ulm')
print(path)
print()
# Tell python to run main method
if __name__ == "__main__": main()
```

`['Frankfurt: 0', 'Wurzburg: 111', 'Ulm: 294']`

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