In September, Dr. Kevin Hamlen, a computer science professor at the University of Texas, twice broke the world record in the Elite Dangerous space simulator. In this he was helped by professional knowledge – he used the solution to one of the mathematical problems that gives students.
Hamlen tried to calculate the optimal path from the Sol system, where the Earth is, to the most remote human colony in the Colonia system – they are separated by about 22 thousand light-years.
He decided to shorten the road, moving from one neutron star to another, replenishing the fuel supply and jumping through hyperspace.
As a result, we managed to calculate the route by writing our own version of the algorithm called A *, which presented the galaxy map in the form of a directed graph and analyzed it. So Hamlen determined the least costly path, and then followed along with his six-year-old son Will.
I realized that you can find the fastest route from Earth to Colonia using the well-known task on graph theory, which we ask in computer science lessons.
It seemed to me that it would be fun to check how science would help me here. I downloaded the star map data and wrote a code that would find the best way. Then I just flew over it while Will corrected the course.
lecturer at the university of texas
According to the professor, it took him about four hours to write the code, and the program needed to analyze 1.3 million known neutron stars.
On the first attempt, Hamlen managed to break the previous record by 12 minutes – the ship landed on Colonia 1 hour, 38 minutes and 11 seconds after take-off. Later, the professor finalized his algorithm and improved the result to 1 hour and 29 minutes.