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Many communication networks use adaptive shortest path routing. By this we mean that each network link is periodically assigned a length that depends on its congestion level during the preceding period, and all traffic generated between length updates is routed along a shortest path corresponding to the latest link lengths. We show that in certain situations, typical of networks involving a large number of small users and utilizing virtual circuits, this routing method performs optimally in an asymptotic sense. In other cases, shortest path routing can be far from optimal.