pgRouting with A-Star algorithm

A-Star algorithm is another well-known routing algorithm. It adds geographical information to source and target of each network link. This enables the shortest path search to prefer links which are closer to the target of the search.

Prepare routing table for A-Star

For A-Star you need to prepare your network table and add latitute/longitude columns (x1, y1 and x2, y2) and calculate their values.

ALTER TABLE ways ADD COLUMN x1 double precision;
ALTER TABLE ways ADD COLUMN y1 double precision;
ALTER TABLE ways ADD COLUMN x2 double precision;
ALTER TABLE ways ADD COLUMN y2 double precision;
UPDATE ways SET x1 = x(startpoint(the_geom));
UPDATE ways SET y1 = y(startpoint(the_geom));
UPDATE ways SET x2 = x(endpoint(the_geom));
UPDATE ways SET y2 = y(endpoint(the_geom));

Note: "endpoint()" function fails for some versions of PostgreSQL (ie. 8.2.5, 8.1.9). A workaround for that problem is using the "PointN()" function instead:

UPDATE ways SET x1 = x(PointN(the_geom, 1));
UPDATE ways SET y1 = y(PointN(the_geom, 1));
UPDATE ways SET x2 = x(PointN(the_geom, NumPoints(the_geom)));
UPDATE ways SET y2 = y(PointN(the_geom, NumPoints(the_geom)));

Shortest Path A-Star core function

Shortest Path A-Star function is very similar to the Dijkstra function, though it prefers links that are close to the target of the search. The heuristics of this search are predefined, so you need to recompile pgRouting if you want to make changes to the heuristic function itself.

shortest_path_astar( sql text, 
		   source_id integer, 
		   target_id integer, 
		   directed boolean, 
		   has_reverse_cost boolean ) 


  • Source and target IDs are vertex IDs.
  • Undirected graphs ("directed false") ignores "has_reverse_cost" setting

Example of A-Star core function

SELECT * FROM shortest_path_astar('
		SELECT gid as id, 
			 length::double precision as cost, 
			 x1, y1, x2, y2
			FROM ways', 
		10, 20, false, false); 
vertex_id | edge_id |        cost         
        10 |     293 |  0.0059596293824534
         9 |    4632 |  0.0846731039249787
      3974 |    4633 |  0.0765635090514303
       ... |     ... |  ...
        20 |      -1 |                   0
(63 rows)

Wrapper function WITH bounding box

Wrapper functions extend the core functions with transformations, bounding box limitations, etc..

SELECT gid, AsText(the_geom) AS the_geom 
	FROM astar_sp_delta('ways', 10, 20, 0.1);
  gid   |                              the_geom      
    293 | MULTILINESTRING((18.4074149 -33.9443308,18.4074019 -33.9443833))
   4632 | MULTILINESTRING((18.4074149 -33.9443308,18.4077388 -33.9436183))
   4633 | MULTILINESTRING((18.4077388 -33.9436183,18.4080293 -33.9429733))
    ... | ...
    762 | MULTILINESTRING((18.4241422 -33.9179275,18.4237423 -33.9182966))
    761 | MULTILINESTRING((18.4243523 -33.9177154,18.4241422 -33.9179275))
(62 rows)


  • There is currently no wrapper function for A-Star without bounding box, since bounding boxes are very useful to increase performance. If you don't need a bounding box Dijkstra will be enough anyway.
  • The projection of OSM data is "degree", so we set a bounding box containing start and end vertex plus a 0.1 degree buffer for example.