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Techniques for tracing minimum-cost routes between nodes in a cost-weighted network have long been used in conjunction with geographic information systems (GIS) to allocate linear features such as roads, pipes, or cables. One of the problems with such techniques, however, is that they regard these features as truly linear in nature: having length but no appreciable width. When siting features such as rights-of-way, wildlife corridors, or greenways that clearly do encompass two significant dimensions, the whole area of each feature must be considered when attempting to minimize cost. Past approaches to the optimal routing of such wide corridors have generally been either ineffective or prohibitively complex. This paper proposes an alternative strategy that promises both efficiency and effectiveness and does so with both simplicity and flexibility. In fact, this technique requires no new software at all. It merely requires that the routing problem be seen from a different perspective: one that addresses path width not in terms of the path itself but in terms of the field of costs that the path must traverse.



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