Imagine you are a salesperson and have to visit a number of customers. However, you want to spend as little time as possible driving. If you only have to visit two or three locations, it is usually easy to find the optimal route. You can use regular map services such as Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps or MapQuest to find the shortest path between two places. However, as the number of locations to visit grows, the task of finding the order in which to visit the locations becomes daunting.
Despair not, I have created OptiMap, the answer to all your roundtrip troubles. At least the troubles that involve 20 or less locations to visit. There might be time and fuel costs (and thus greenhouse gas emissions) to save here, but don’t come sue me later if you find a better route. The application is only as accurate as the data that Google Maps supplies to it. Furthermore, when 10 or more locations are entered, a heuristic called Ant Colony Optimization (with some other tricks, too) is applied instead of trying every possible ordering, so there’s no guarantee of finding the optimal route. The heuristic usually finds a solution impressively close to the optimal, however.