March 04, 2004
What Network Engineers Can Learn From Ants

In today’s Register UK — “Barging ants solve network congestion”:

Vincent Fourcassié and his team studied how ants manage to avoid banging into each other on foraging trails. They discovered a pragmatic approach: faced with a blockage, an ant will simply barge the other out of the way, forcing it to take an alternative route.

Ants will lay down scent cues for their colleagues to follow when out looking for food. These trails mark the path between food and home and are reinforced as more ants use them. This makes them even more attractive, and even more ants want to use the trails.

Too many ants trying to use one route will slow the delivery of food to the nest. In his paper, published in Nature, Fourcassié reports that ants will just shove each other off the main thoroughfares, and onto chemical back streets.

Computer scientists at University College London say this simple approach could help reduce congestion in large networks ?? like telephone systems.

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at March 04, 2004
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