Words On Wednesday

Words on Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another one bites the dust.

Map Optimization

I am currently in the process of buying a house and I’ve noticed that one thing in particular is absurdly frustrating to me: backtracking all over Spartanburg county looking at houses.


I have no problem spending the gas and time looking at the houses. The nature of the beast is simply that we have to weed through hundreds or thousands of houses before we find the one that works best for us, and part of that is driving around to look at the neighborhood and seeing how the house looks in person. The part that bugs me is that most of the commuting is unnecessary because we end up going back and forth over the same stretch of road multiple times.


We began the process by grouping houses into towns and going town-by-town according to what looked most efficient. While this was better than traveling at random, there were several times that houses are completely across town from each other and we would go to them in an order that left us at the wrong side of one town for the next town’s houses.


To try for the most optimal path, we entered all the addresses for one trip into a personalized Google map. We then plotted a path logically in what looked like the most efficient route and looked at the houses in that order. A noticeable improvement over the previous technique, there was still something to be desired. Who’s to say that the path we chose was less optimal than some other permutation of destinations?
The experience has led me to a desire for some sort of map optimization software. There should be some way to enter a collection of destinations and have the software generate the most optimal path between them, whether by distance or estimated time. Preferably, there would also be a function to allow for optional destinations, restaurants in this case. We’re going to have to eat at some point during the day and we want cookout, the software should check all local cookout locations and select the one best fitting with the path to the required destinations. While it would be nice to have this editable on the fly with added or removed destinations, simply having a set path to work with would be better than what we’re doing now.


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