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Real world routing problems, e.g., in the airline industry or in public and rail transit, can feature complex non-linear cost functions. An important case are costs for crossing regions, such as countries or fare zones. We introduce the shortest path problem with crossing costs (SPPCC) to address such situations; it generalizes the classical shortest path problem and variants such as the resource constrained shortest path problem and the minimum label path problem. Motivated by an application in flight trajectory optimization with overflight costs, we focus on the case in which the crossing costs of a region depend only on the nodes used to enter or exit it. We propose an exact Two-Layer-Dijkstra Algorithm as well as a novel cost-projection linearization technique that approximates crossing costs by shadow costs on individual arcs, thus reducing the SPPCC to a standard shortest path problem. We evaluate all algorithms’ performance on real-world flight trajectory optimization instances, obtaining very good à posteriori error bounds.

We study the Flight Planning Problem for a single aircraft, which deals with finding a path of minimal travel time in an airway network. Flight time along arcs is affected by wind speed and direction, which are functions of time. We consider three variants of the problem, which can be modeled as, respectively, a classical shortest path problem in a metric space, a time-dependent shortest path problem with piecewise linear travel time functions, and a time-dependent shortest path problem with piecewise differentiable travel time functions. The shortest path problem and its time-dependent variant have been extensively studied, in particular, for road networks. Airway networks, however, have different characteristics: the average node degree is higher and shortest paths usually have only few arcs. We propose A* algorithms for each of the problem variants. In particular, for the third problem, we introduce an application-specific "super-optimal wind" potential function that overestimates optimal wind conditions on each arc, and establish a linear error bound. We compare the performance of our methods with the standard Dijkstra algorithm and the Contraction Hierarchies (CHs) algorithm. Our computational results on real world instances show that CHs do not perform as well as on road networks. On the other hand, A* guided by our potentials yields very good results. In particular, for the case of piecewise linear travel time functions, we achieve query times about 15 times shorter than CHs.

We introduce the shortest path problem with crossing costs (SPPCC), a shortest path problem in a directed graph, in which the objective function is the sum of arc weights and crossing costs. The former are independently paid for each arc used by the path, the latter need to be paid every time the path intersects certain sets of arcs, which we call regions.
The SPPCC generalizes not only the classical shortest path problem but also variants such as the resource constrained shortest path problem and the minimum label path problem. We use the SPPCC to model the flight trajectory optimization problem with overflight costs.
In this paper, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the problem. In particular,
we identify efficient exact and approximation algorithms for the cases that are most relevant in practice.