The Hamiltonian cycle problem is also a special case of the travelling salesman problem, obtained by setting the distance between two cities to one if they are adjacent and two otherwise, and verifying that the total distance travelled is equal to n (if so, the route is a Hamiltonian circuit; if there is no Hamiltonian circuit then the shortest route will be longer).

The first algorithm for finding an Hamiltonian cycle on a directed graph was the enumerative algorithm of Martello. different sequences of vertices that might be Hamiltonian paths in a given n-vertex graph (and are, in a complete graph), so a brute force search algorithm that tests all possible sequences would be very slow. A search procedure by Frank Rubin divides the edges of the graph into three classes: those that must be in the path, those that cannot be in the path, and undecided, as the search proceeds, a set of decision rules classifies the undecided edges, and determines whether to halt or continue the search.

(That is, add an edge to that neighbor, and remove one of the existing edges from that neighbor so as not to form a loop.) Then, continue the algorithm at the new end of the path.

Due to the complexity of the problem computers have to be used to solve what may seem to be minor tasks, for example to calculate the shortest route to tour the ten biggest cities in the UK over 3.5 million routes have to be analysed.

In graphs in which all vertices have odd degree, an argument related to the handshaking lemma shows that the number of Hamiltonian cycles through any fixed edge is always even, so if one Hamiltonian cycle is given, then a second one must also exist.The directed and undirected Hamiltonian cycle problems were two of Karp's 21 NP-complete problems.Garey and Johnson showed shortly afterwards in 1974 that the directed Hamiltonian cycle problem remains NP-complete for planar graphs and the undirected Hamiltonian cycle problem remains NP-complete for cubic planar graphs.For each choice of S and v, a path exists for (S,v) if and only if v has a neighbor w such that a path exists for (S Andreas Björklund provided an alternative approach using the inclusion–exclusion principle to reduce the problem of counting the number of Hamiltonian cycles to a simpler counting problem, of counting cycle covers, which can be solved by computing certain matrix determinants.Using this method, he showed how to solve the Hamiltonian cycle problem in arbitrary n-vertex graphs by a Monte Carlo algorithm in time O(1.657 Because of the difficulty of solving the Hamiltonian path and cycle problems on conventional computers, they have also been studied in unconventional models of computing.