You Need to Take This Ultimate Road Trip Across the US

Mar 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm |
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Could anybody possibly love algorithms more than this guy?

Computer scientist Randal Olson might just be the biggest fan of these difficult formulae, but the good news is that he uses his mathematical brain power for the good of us all. Namely, to create organized graphs and charts for practical purposes, you know, like finding Waldo or criticizing just how many degrees away everyone is from Kevin Bacon.

How does he do it? By using some human logic along with some serious computer power, Randy, who is a fourth-year Computer Science & Engineering Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University (with a really cool blog) uses complicated codes and algorithms to determine likelihoods, probabilities, and statistical facts.

Olson’s latest viral study? The perfect road trip across the USA.

To make this wanderluster’s dream a reality, Randy and his team inputted what are largely considered the US’ best landmarks, cities, historical centers, and must-see sites while following these three rules:

1. The trip must make at least one stop in all 48 states in the contiguous U.S.
2. The trip would only make stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments.
3. The trip must be taken by car and never leave the U.S.

The computer did all the rest.

What would probably have taken a human years – or forever – to do by hand, the computer did in a short time. It quickly calculated the 2,500 different combinations of distance by road between each of the 50 landmarks, and then, by using a genetic algorithm, it figured out the most optimized route around the country in less than a minute. Incredible.

That means your perfect road trip around the States has already been figured out for you, which means you can see the best spots with the least amount of backtracking. Some of the most famous sites included on the ideal trip are the Grand Canyon, the Alamo, the White House, the Statue of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore, among many other famous American icons and landmarks. You can see the full list of stops and destinations in Olson’s full report here.

So, the big question: how long would it all take? According to his study, Randy states that, without traffic (and with plenty of gas), the nonstop trip could be done in 224 hours, or about 9.33 days. In reality, this translates to about 2-3 months of traveling across the unabashed beauty of the contiguous 48 states.

Are you up for the challenge?

As for Randy, it would seem that sudden fame has its price:

A computer just figured out the best route for an all-American road trip, but how long would it take to do? Find out here!