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Network AI Math Science Technology

Ants Build Cheapest Networks 108

schliz writes "When building a network from scratch, Argentine ants tend to connect their nests in the way that, while more inconvenient for individual ants, requires the minimum amount of trail. Researchers studying 'supercolonies' of the ants found them building networks that closely resembled the mathematical shortest path — a Steiner tree. They hope to apply their work to self-healing, organic computing networks of self-organising sensors, robots, computers, and autonomous cars." This story adds to the earlier report of ants' networking prowess.
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Ants Build Cheapest Networks

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  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @07:36PM (#35238934) Homepage
    Steiner trees are an example of a class of problems where perfect solutions are difficult to compute but near-optimal solutions are simple. I suspect that the ants are using some set of heuristics that would provide close to optimal solutions. The more interesting thing really is how the ants are able to do this in a completely decentralized fashion having essentially only local knowledge. However, this is not the first example of that sort of thing: ants produce very complicated systems of tunnels using only localized rules. When you've got millions of years of evolution, you develop efficient solutions.
  • Them ants is smart (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @08:09PM (#35239228) Journal

    Or maybe we're just underestimating the intelligence of soap []

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman