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Computer Scientists Find the Longest Straight Line You Could Sail Without Hitting Land

By Technology Review

May 7, 2018

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Researchers at the United Technologies Research Center in Ireland and IBM Research India have developed an algorithm for calculating the longest straight-line path around the world on land or sea.

The algorithm considers potential solutions as branches on a tree, checking one branch after another. Each branch contains a subset of potential solutions, of which one is the optimal solution.

Another technique, called "bounding," measures the properties of the subsets to determine whether the solution is closer to the optimal value. When it finds a closer solution, the algorithm considers this the best subset until a better subset on a better branch is identified.

The researchers used this method to determine that the longest straight-line path over water stretches 32,089.7 kilometers from Sonmiani, Balochistan, Pakistan to the Karaginsky District, Kamchatka Krai, in Russia. The longest path over land runs 11,241.1 kilometers from Jinjiang, Fujian in China to Sagres in Portugal.

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