I think the response that won the votes was because of the picture in the response, and the answer "Consider a railroad junction" which succinctly describes the problem you may have when dealing with unsorted data and path analysis.
I am consistently amazed at how much difference a good path makes in programming, especially with databases. Ensure your tables all have primary keys. Performance improves. Add covering indexes for long running queries. Performance improves.
These two things can sometimes fix many of the performance issues living within the database layer.
Clean up your code. Ensure state is kept to a minimum, and conversations with slower systems such as databases and disk are batched up and cached.
Predictability and patterns in your code, and being obsessive-compulsive when it comes to clean coding seems to mean a lot. To some compilers, anyway.
Others will ignore all your hard work and try to determine the best way to solve your problem. Seems to be the norm for the Oracle instance I'm currently using.
If you use a tool such as Windows Sysinternals process explorer, you can see what kind of effect these types of incorrect paths have on system performance. You'll notice a lot of Access Denied, Key not Found or File not Found messages. Systems could be so much faster if it just found the correct registry entry, filename, or internet address the first time, without going down multiple paths blindly. Perhaps predictive analytics will soon solve this issue, so that each time you use your computer it will intelligently speed up your daily tasks.
Or perhaps I'm just being obsessive.