Google Crosses The Seven Bridges of Koenigsberg

by on May 4, 2013


Google has sent its Street View cars over the famous, Seven Bridges of Koenigsberg, in Russia recently. But even the brilliant search engine giant couldn’t find a solution to the Euler Walk, how to cross each bridge in the Russian hamlet only once.

The famous math problem, Seven Bridges of Koenigsberg, formulated in 1735 by Leonhard Eular, laid the groundwork for topology and graph theory, central to the technology of Google maps, and Google Street view.

According to Google, “Fast forward 278 years to today where we still rely on Euler’s findings to calculate optimal driving routes for our Street View cars. We use sophisticated algorithms, based on graph theory, to determine the best route through a city or town—helping us capture all the images we need in the shortest amount of time.”

Continuing, “Though these algorithms are complex, in simple terms, it’s equivalent to solving the problem of drawing a house without lifting your pen and never going over the same segment twice.”

Sound easy? Here’s the problem. Find a course through Kaliningrad that crosses each of the seven bridges in town only once. The town was separated for a time by the Pregel River. Think it’s easy? Here’s a picture of the problem. See if you can do what Eular couldn’t:

Leonhard Euler was considered one of the most prolific mathematicians of all time. It was this problem that opened the way to a branch of mathematics called combinatorics: the study of finite or discrete structures.

If you can find a way to cross each bridge only once and keep moving, you are a bonafide genius, and should consider contacting Google for a programming job. Now consider what their maps do. On your phone. For free. What can’t technology do?

Except find a way across the seven bridges.

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