Ford Fulkerson algorithm

Ford Fulkerson algorithm

Ford Fulkerson’s algorithm solves the maximum flow graph problem. It finds the best organisation of flow through the edges of graphs such that you get maximum flow out on the other end. The source has a specific rate of input and each edge has a weight associated with it which is the maximum substance that can be passed through that edge.

Ford Fulkerson algorithm is also called Edmund-Karp algorithm as the algorithm was provided in complete specification by Jack Edmonds and Richard Karp.

It works by creating augmenting paths i.e. paths from source to sink that have a non-zero flow. We pass the flow through the paths and we update the limits. This can lead to situation where we have no more moves left. That’s where the ‘undo’ ability of this algorithm plays a big role. In case of being stuck, we decrease the flow and open up the edge to pass our current substance.


  1. Set zero flow for all edges.
  2. While there is a path from source to sink do,
    1. Find the minimum weight on the path, let it be limit.
    2. For all edges (u, v) on the path do,
      1. Add limit to flow from u to v. (For current move)
      2. Subtract limit from flow from v to u. (For undo in later move)


Time Complexity: O(V*E^2)

Python implementation

# Large number as infinity inf = 1e10 def maximum_flow(graph, source, sink): max_flow = 0 parent = bfs(graph, source, sink) while path: limit = inf v = sink while v != source: u = parent[s] path_flow = min(limit, graph[u][v]) v = parent[v] max_flow += path_flow v = sink while v != source: u = parent[v] graph[u][v] -= path_flow graph[v][u] += path_flow v = parent[v] path = bfs(graph, source, sink) return max_flow

More Information:


Ford Fulkerson – Wikipedia

This article needs improvement. You can help improve this article. You can also write similar articles and help the community.