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Math Science

Stanford Researchers Discover the 'Anternet' 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the ant-power dept.
stoilis writes "A collaboration between Deborah Gordon, a Stanford ant biologist, and Balaji Prabhakar, a computer scientist, has revealed that the behavior of harvester ants, as they forage for food, mirrors the protocols that control traffic on the Internet. From the article: 'Prabhakar wrote an ant algorithm to predict foraging behavior depending on the amount of food – i.e., bandwidth – available. Gordon's experiments manipulate the rate of forager return. Working with Stanford student Katie Dektar, they found that the TCP-influenced algorithm almost exactly matched the ant behavior found in Gordon's experiments. "Ants have discovered an algorithm that we know well, and they've been doing it for millions of years," Prabhakar said.' The abstract is published in the Aug. 23 issue of PLoS Computational Biology."
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Stanford Researchers Discover the 'Anternet'

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  • news? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @10:19AM (#41136343)

    ummm.... I do believe there were some seminal works during the pre-BT days regarding ant routing -- http://mute-net.sourceforge.net/howAnts.shtml.

    while that has more to do with routing than congestion avoidance, I would hope that your average network engineer knows that ants have the EEs beaten cold.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @10:51AM (#41136609)

    Arguably, unless 'knowing' is something that you can do with substantially less nervous system than we expect, it might be more apt to think of ants as being capable of executing an algorithm, rather than 'knowing' it.

    The ant executes the algorithm. The colony knows the algorithm. (It's embedded in the colony's firmware, implemented in ants. Just as the sort of real-time calculus required to catch a ball is embedded in primate DNA, implemented in neurons.)

  • by dirkx (540136) <dirkx@vangulik.org> on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:10AM (#41136787) Homepage
    From the article:

    .. feedback loop allows TCP [to run][ congestion avoidance: If acks return at a slower rate than the data was sent out, that indicates that there is little bandwidth available, and the source throttles...

    which does seem to be a far cry from TCP. While common lore (and the modern buffer bloated internet) has it that high RTT means little available bandwidth (and it sure does play havoc with the bandwidth product - giving rise to that lore fairly) - the design calls for packet drop rather than delay to indicate a link being overloaded. And while the source slows down - it does not actually throttles; it just awaits the ack - it wont slow down the next packets. It is just that the window won't grow further. So makes one think of the observations in RFC-2488.

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth

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