Creating and solving mazes with Go

Programming Snapshot – Go Mazes

© Photo by Henri Lajarrige Lombard on Unsplash

© Photo by Henri Lajarrige Lombard on Unsplash

Article from Issue 245/2021
Author(s):

Mazes fascinated even the ancient Greeks. Mike Schilli uses his Go programming skills to create a maze and then efficiently travel through it.

In Europe, mazes are said to have come into fashion during the 15th century, mostly on manorial estates where guests were politely invited to "lose themselves" in gardens segregated by high hedges. However, winding paths (some of which even lead you in circles), where you need to make it from a starting point to an endpoint, can also be drawn on paper or simulated on computers. Algorithms usually represent a maze's path system internally as a graph along the edges of which the virtual explorer traverses from one node to the next, discarding dead ends, breaking out of endless loops, and eventually arriving at the destination node.

Computational handling of mazes is divided into two tasks: creating mazes and traversing them as effectively as possible by using a solver. You wouldn't think it possible, but on Amazon you can actually find a book entitled Mazes for Programmers [1]. The Kindle version of this book is a total failure due to font problems, but the paper edition shows some useful methods for creating and solving mazes.

From Cell to Cell

A maze consists of a matrix of MxN cells. In Figure 1, red arrows show the directions in which a traveler advances from cell to cell. These options then define the walls that are drawn to separate a cell from its neighbors.

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