In the proof of the correctness of Dijkstra algorithm, there is a lemma stating as follow:

Let u be v's predecessor on a shortest path P:s->...->u->v from s to v. Then, If d(u) = δ(s,u) and edge (u, v) is relaxed, we have d(v) = δ(s,v), where the funciton δ(x, y) denotes the minimum path weight from x to y.

I wonder why we need the condition d(u) = δ(s,u) in this lemma. If Path P: s->...->u->v is a shortest path from s to v, then by the property of optimal substructure, the subpath s->...->u of P must also be a shortest path from s to u. Therefore, d(u) must equal to δ(s,u).

Does there exist the case that d(u) ≠ δ(s,u) but P: s->...->u->v is a shortest from s to v? If it does, can someone offer an example here.

Any help will be appreciated

PS: if you are interested in the entire proof. Check here, the proof starts at 45:30


It looks like you misunderstood the nature of $d(v)$ for a vertex $v$.

$d(v)$ is designed to hold the current known shortest distance from $s$ to $v$ at each step/stage of the algorithm. That is, $d(v)$ is not a fixed value given $s$ and $v$ alone.

At the start of Dijkstra's algorithm, $d(s)$ is initialized to 0 and $d(v)$ is initialized to $\infty$ for each vertex $v\not=s$ in $G$. For example, let graph $G$ have three vertices $s, u, v$ and two edges $\{s,u\}, \{u,v\}$. The path $s,u,v$ is a shortest path from $s$ to $v$. Right right after Dijkstra's algorithm has initialized $d(u)$ to $\infty$, we have $d(u)=\infty\not=1=\delta(s,u)$. This is one of the examples you are looking for. In fact, for all graphs in which $u$ is reachable from $s$, as long as $d(u)$ has not been relaxed to $\delta(s,u)$, we will have, of course, $d(u)\not=\delta(s,u)$.

On the other hand, $d(u)=\delta(s,u)$ must hold at the time when the edge $(u, v)$ is being relaxed in Dijkstra's algorithm. That might be the reason that prompts you to raise this question. Note that as a property of the Dijkstra's algorithm, that fact is not proved yet at the point of time in that lesson.


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