# Why doesn't the Floyd-Warshall algorithm work if I put k in the innermost loop

The Floyd-Warshall algorithm is defined as follows:

   for k from 1 to |V|
for i from 1 to |V|
for j from 1 to |V|
if dist[i][k] + dist[k][j] < dist[i][j] then
dist[i][j] ← dist[i][k] + dist[k][j]


Why doesn't it work if I simply use

for i from 1 to |V|
for j from 1 to |V|
for k from 1 to |V|
if dist[i][k] + dist[k][j] < dist[i][j] then
dist[i][j] ← dist[i][k] + dist[k][j]


In this case, the intermediate node k is iterated in the innermost loop. I expect it will make the same comparisons, but maybe different order. Why is the result different and incorrect?

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What does this one do? next[i][j] ← k – Pål GD Feb 10 '13 at 12:47
maybe to remember the path.. I just copied from wikipedia. We can I ignore it I guess, I am not interested in that part – user6805 Feb 10 '13 at 13:46
It is incorrect because the ordering is incorrect. The "different order" is what makes it incorrect. – Paresh Feb 10 '13 at 14:24

Take $i - 1$ and $j = 2$. The algorithm is trying to find the shortest path between $1$ and $2$, by considering intermediate vertices. But at this point, most of the array dist is infinity, so we don't even find that $2$ is reachable from $1$ unless the distance is $1$ or $2$.
The approach of the algorithm is dynamic programming. This means that during computation only partial solutions are determined. Here $k$ is an important parameter in the algorithm. When dealing with $k$, shortest paths are computed that are only allowed to pass vertices $1$ upto $k$, the other vertices can only be initial or final. That means that $k$ has a different position than that of $i,j$. We cannot change that order. For a fixed $k$ however, the values $i,j$ within the inner two loops can be evaluated in ant order.