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In computer science, Prim's (also known as Jarník's) algorithm is a greedy algorithm that finds a minimum spanning tree for a weighted undirected graph. This means it finds a subset of the edges that forms a tree that includes every vertex, where the total weight of all the edges in the tree is minimized. The algorithm operates by building this tree one vertex at a time, from an arbitrary starting vertex, at each step adding the cheapest possible connection from the tree to another vertex.
The algorithm was developed in 1930 by Czech mathematician Vojt?ch Jarník and later rediscovered and republished by computer scientists Robert C. Prim in 1957 and Edsger W. Dijkstra in 1959. Therefore, it is also sometimes called the Jarník's algorithm, Prim–Jarník algorithm, Prim–Dijkstra algorithm or the DJP algorithm.
Other well-known algorithms for this problem include Kruskal's algorithm and Bor?vka's algorithm. These algorithms find the minimum spanning forest in a possibly disconnected graph; in contrast, the most basic form of Prim's algorithm only finds minimum spanning trees in connected graphs. However, running Prim's algorithm separately for each connected component of the graph, it can also be used to find the minimum spanning forest. In terms of their asymptotic time complexity, these three algorithms are equally fast for sparse graphs, but slower than other more sophisticated algorithms. However, for graphs that are sufficiently dense, Prim's algorithm can be made to run in linear time, meeting or improving the time bounds for other algorithms.