Reachability and distance queries via 2-hop labels

Edith Cohen*, Eran Halperin, Haim Kaplan, Uri Zwick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

316 Scopus citations


Reachability and distance queries in graphs are fundamental to numerous applications, ranging from geographic navigation systems to Internet routing. Some of these applications involve huge graphs and yet require fast query answering. We propose a new data structure for representing all distances in a graph. The data structure is distributed in the sense that it may be viewed as assigning labels to the vertices, such that a query involving vertices u and v may be answered using only the labels of u and v. Our labels are based on 2-hop covers of the shortest paths, or of all paths, in a graph. For shortest paths, such a cover is a collection S of shortest paths such that, for every two vertices u and v, there is a shortest path from u to v that is a concatenation of two paths from S. We describe an efficient algorithm for finding an almost optimal 2-hop cover of a given collection of paths. Our approach is general and can be applied to directed or undirected graphs, exact or approximate shortest paths, or to reachability queries. We study the proposed data structure using a combination of theoretical and experimental means. We implemented our algorithm and checked the size of the resulting data structure on several real-life networks from different application areas. Our experiments show that the total size of the labels is typically not much larger than the network itself, and is usually considerably smaller than an explicit representation of the transitive closure of the network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1338-1355
Number of pages18
JournalSIAM Journal on Computing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2003


  • 2-hop labels
  • Distance labels
  • Reachability queries
  • Shortest-path queries


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