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Date added: 14.2.2015

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A very simple but instructive problem was treated by Jacob Steiner, the famous representative of geometry at the University of Berlin in the early nineteenth century. Three villages A, B, C are to be joined by a system of roads of minimum length. MoreA very simple but instructive problem was treated by Jacob Steiner, the famous representative of geometry at the University of Berlin in the early nineteenth century. Three villages A, B, C are to be joined by a system of roads of minimum length. Due to this remark of Courant and Robbins (1941), a problem received its name that actually reaches two hundred years further back and should more appropriately be attributed to the French mathematician Pierre Fermat. At the end of his famous treatise Minima and Maxima he raised the question to find for three given points in the plane a fourth one in such a way that the sum of its distances to the given points is minimized - that is, to solve the problem mentioned above in its mathematical abstraction. It is known that Evangelista Torricelli had found a geometrical solution for this problem already before 1640. During the last centuries this problem was rediscovered and generalized by many mathematicians, including Jacob Steiner. Nowadays the term Steiner prob lem refers to a problem where a set of given points PI, . . ., Pn have to be connected in such a way that (i) any two of the given points are joined and (ii) the total length (measured with respect to some predefined cost function) is minimized. The Steiner Tree Problem: A Tour Through Graphs, Algorithms, And Complexity by Hans Jurgen Promel