take a monumental road trip to OBX and beyond!
Like road trips and monuments? Then THIS is the trip for you! Using a map and list created with a specially crafted algorithm, you can jump in the car and hit 50 major U.S. landmarks. This fun piece by Tracy Staedter for Discovery News shares the method behind the madness of this crazy continental cruise. Spoiler alert: The Wright Brother’s Memorial on the OBX is number 18 on the list!
“It would take a computer millions of years to account for every twist and turn along a continental drive and give us the absolute best route — one that backtracked as little as possible. But hey, we just don’t have that kind of time. So Randy pulled the genetic algorithm card again, which he used for the Where’s Waldo solution.
He writes: “Instead of exhaustively looking at every possible solution, genetic algorithms start with a handful of random solutions and continually tinker with these solutions — always trying something slightly different from the current solution and keeping the best one — until they can’t find a better solution any more.”
The algorithm evaluates whether a solution is good or not based on something called a fitness function. “For the road trip itinerary, the fitness function was the shortest distances between waypoints,” Olson told me.
The result is not the absolute best route between all of the landmarks, but rather a route that’s pretty darn good.”