D. E. JACKSON, M. BICAK, M. HOLCOMBE
A Paradigm for Self-Organisation: New Inspiration from Ant Foraging Trails

Abstract. Self-organised biological systems are robust, flexible and adaptive. They respond to changing conditions in a manner which is desirable in emerging computational systems. The problems solved by Pharaoh's ants are analogous to those challenging modern computer science; specifically dynamic or continuous optimisation problems. Pharaoh's ants utilise multiple chemical pheromones for communication (and memory) over divergent time scales. Furthermore, there is a division of labour between pathfinder scouts who persistently search for the optimal solution and generalised foragers who exploit the current best solution. This subtle balance means that multiple solutions can be maintained while an optimum is still sought, but alternative solutions are kept available. The remarkable sophistication of this self-organised ant foraging system clearly exhibits many desirable properties. The aim of our project is to take inspiration from these properties and deliver novel ant algorithms, which can apply to the problems of autonomic and autonomous systems.

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