Swarms have fascinating properties. Their individual mem¬bers follow simple rules — yet the swarm accomplishes complex tasks. No single member controls the swarm, making it extremely robust. This simplicity and robustness make them an interesting model for solving problems in computer science. In this paper the term swarm intelligence is explained and the motivation behind the approach is discussed. Proper¬ties of swarms and social insects are described and the process of building a metaheuristic after an example in nature is looked at. Different uses of swarm intelligence are introduced and the usefulness of the field is evaluated.
Swarm intelligence (SI) as defined by Bonabeau, Dorigo and Theraulaz is "any attempt to design algorithms or distributed problem-solving devices inspired by the collective behavior of social insect colonies and other animal societies". So every time something is inspired by swarms — it is swarm intelligence. But why imitate swarms in the first place?
Swarms have fascinated scientist for a long time. Insect colonies for example seem to work in a coordinated manner — yet no single member of the swarm is in control. What is accomplished is an emergent phenomenon. Termites build giant structures, ants manage to find food sources quickly and efficiently and flocks of birds and schools of fish fend off predators and move as one body. But how does nature create this coordination?
Swarm Intelligence in Nature
Swarm behavior in nature is divided into two categories: Species whose individ¬uals form a swarm because they benefit in some way and social insects — which live in colonies whose members cannot survive on their own.
Compared to the complexity of the buildings and actions of the colony the relative simplicity of an individual is a striking feature of social insects. Termites for example build giant mounds with ventilation shafts and grow fungus for nourishment. Ants manage to efficiently search an area for food — whether it is evenly distributed or scattered in patches , an example for the robustness of the insect colony. Social insects also efficiently divide tasks like finding food, feeding the brood and defending the nest
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