## Path Finding Using A-Star in Clojure

For a recent project, I had to implement A* (A-Star) in Clojure, since it's a very popular path finding algorithm used in gaming I thought it might be interesting to other clojurians too.

AStar uses best-first search to find the the least-cost path from a given initial node to one goal node (out of one or more possible goals). Functions,

**g(x)**- cost of getting to that node from starting node.**h(x)**- cost of getting to the goal node from current node.**f(x)**-**g(x)+h(x)**

are used to determine the order in which search visits nodes. Beginning
with the start node, we keep track of two lists, open and closed, open
list contains the list of nodes to traverse sorted by their **f(x)** cost,
closed list contains the list of nodes that we have processed. At each
step, algorithm removes the first node on the open list, calculate
**f(x)**, **g(x)** and **h(x)** values for its neighbors and add the ones that
are not on the closed list to the open list. This is done until goal
node has been found or no nodes are left on the open list.

In a nutshell we will,

- Add the starting node to the open list.
- Loop
- Remove the node with the lowest
**f(x)**from the open list. - Add it to closed list.
- Calculate 8 adjacent squares.
- Filter neighbors that are not on the closed list and walkable.
- For each square
- If it is not on the open list, calculate F, G and H costs, make the current square parent of this square and add it open list.
- If it is on the open list, check to see if this path to that square is better using the G cost, a lower G indicates a better path if so change its parent to this square and recalculate F G and H costs.

- Remove the node with the lowest
- Until
- Target node is added to the closed list indicating a path has been found.
- No more nodes left in the open list indicating there is no path between nodes.

(def maze1 [[0 0 0 0 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0] [0 0 0 0 0 0 0]])

Surface is represented using a 2D vector of 0s and 1s, 0 denoting walkable nodes and 1 denoting non walkable nodes.

(defn manhattan-distance [[x1 y1] [x2 y2]] (+ (Math/abs ^Integer (- x2 x1)) (Math/abs ^Integer (- y2 y1)))) (defn cost [curr start end] (let [g (manhattan-distance start curr) h (manhattan-distance curr end) f (+ g h)] [f g h]))

Quality of the path found will depend on the distance function used to calculate F, G, and H costs, for this implementation I choose to use Manhattan distance since it is cheaper to calculate then Euclidean distance but keep in mind that different distance metrics will produce different paths so depending on your condition expensive metrics can produce more natural looking paths.

(defn edges [map width height closed [x y]] (for [tx (range (- x 1) (+ x 2)) ty (range (- y 1) (+ y 2)) :when (and (>= tx 0) (>= ty 0) (<= tx width) (<= ty height) (not= [x y] [tx ty]) (not= (nth (nth map ty) tx) 1) (not (contains? closed [tx ty])))] [tx ty]))

For each node we take from the open list, we need to build a list of nodes around it. We filter them by checking if the node contains a 1 in its place on the map which means we can't go over it or it is already in the closed list which means we have already looked at it.

(defn path [end parent closed] (reverse (loop [path [end parent] node (closed parent)] (if (nil? node) path (recur (conj path node) (closed node))))))

When we hit our target node, we need to work backwards starting from target node, go from each node to its parent until we reach the starting node. That is our path.

(use '[clojure.data.priority-map]) (defn search ([map start end] (let [[sx sy] start [ex ey] end open (priority-map-by (fn [x y] (if (= x y) 0 (let [[f1 _ h1] x [f2 _ h2] y] (if (= f1 f2) (if (< h1 h2) -1 1) (if (< f1 f2) -1 1))))) start (cost start start end)) closed {} width (-> map first count dec) height (-> map count dec)] (when (and (not= (nth (nth map sy) sx) 1) (not= (nth (nth map ey) ex) 1)) (search map width height open closed start end)))) ([map width height open closed start end] (if-let [[coord [_ _ _ parent]] (peek open)] (if-not (= coord end) (let [closed (assoc closed coord parent) edges (edges map width height closed coord) open (reduce (fn [open edge] (if (not (contains? open edge)) (assoc open edge (conj (cost edge start end) coord)) (let [[_ pg] (open edge) [nf ng nh] (cost edge start end)] (if (< ng pg) (assoc open edge (conj [nf ng nh] coord)) open)))) (pop open) edges)] (recur map width height open closed start end)) (path end parent closed)))))

Search function is where it all happens and it pretty much summarizes
all of the above steps. Open list is a priority map that will keep its
items sorted by *f* when there is a tie it is broken using the *h*
value, closed is a map of nodes to parents.

We keep calling search until no elements are left on the open list or first node on the open list is our goal node. Unless we are done we remove the first item on the open list, put it to closed list and process nodes around it.

After we get the list of adjacent nodes, they need to be added to the open list for further exploration, for nodes that are not on the open list, we calculate their costs and append them to the open vector, for nodes that are already on the open list, we check which one, the one on the open list or the one we just calculated has a lower G cost if the new one has a lower G cost we replace the one on the list with the new one.

(defn draw-map [area start end] (let [path (into #{} (time (search area start end))) area (map-indexed (fn [idx-row row] (map-indexed (fn [idx-col col] (cond (contains? path [idx-col idx-row]) \X (= 1 col) \# :default \space)) row)) area)] (doseq [line area] (println line))))

(def maze1 [[0 0 0 0 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0] [0 0 0 0 0 0 0]]) (draw-map maze1 [1 2] [5 2])

astar.core=> "Elapsed time: 10.938 msecs" ( X ) ( X # X ) ( X # X ) ( # ) ( )

(def maze2 [[0 0 0 0 0 0 0] [0 0 1 1 1 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0]]) (draw-map maze2 [1 3] [5 2])

astar.core=> "Elapsed time: 10.162 msecs" ( X X X ) ( X # # # X ) ( X # X ) ( X # ) ( # )

(def maze3 [[0 1 0 0 0 1 0] [0 1 0 1 0 1 0] [0 1 0 1 0 1 0] [0 1 0 1 0 1 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0]]) (draw-map maze3 [0 0] [6 0])

astar.core=> "Elapsed time: 8.98 msecs" (X # X # X) (X # X # X # X) (X # X # X # X) (X # X # X # X) ( X # X )

(def maze4 [[0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0] [1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1] [0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1] [0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1] [0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1] [1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0] [0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0] [0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0]]) (draw-map maze4 [0 0] [0 12])

astar.core=> "Elapsed time: 20.136 msecs" (X X X X X X X ) (# # # # # # # X) ( # X ) ( # X ) ( # X ) ( # # # X #) ( # X #) ( # X #) ( X #) (# # # # X # # #) ( # X ) ( # X ) (X X X X )