Swarm Intelligence and Computer Science


Swarm Intelligence is a growing field of study throughout the world. Florida Tech’s own BioComplex (where I work) run by Dr. Menezes is partially focused on swarm intelligence with a computer science focus. “Swarm intelligence focuses on the abstraction and modeling of real phenomena using techniques inspired in Biology (mostly insect societies).” Taken from the BioComplex lab webpage Activities from the department can be followed on Twitter @BioComplexLab and I will be reposting them @DevzzSingh. Feel free to follow.

What exactly is swarm intelligence? According to Jonathan Becher, author of Swarm Intelligence: How the Behavior of Ants Can Be Used To Improve Everything We Do, it’s “the behavior of a population of simple agents who aggregate behavior exhibits intelligence unknown to the individual agents. Groups exhibiting swarm intelligence have no central leader but rather members interact with each other based solely on information they have locally. Examples in nature include ant colonies, flocks of birds, schools of fish, and bacterial growth.”

Professor Deborah Gordon at Stanford says,Ants are not smart. But colonies are smart. So what’s amazing about ants is that in the aggregate, all of these inept creatures accomplish amazing feats as colonies. In an ant colony, there’s nobody in charge. There are no managers. There is nobody telling anybody what to do. The queen does not give rules. She just sits there and lays eggs.” CBS News – Small wonders: What ants can teach us.

Becher points out two examples of swarm intelligence in use today. One is with Southwest Airlines where they use it to test the efficiency of their seating policy with other airlines. The other example is how the popular game Halo uses it to give a certain species in the game more strength.

Additionally, cancer, a complicated problem faced by modern medicine, may have a simple foundation if applied through the lens of swarm intelligence. The rules of swarm intelligence may be able to explain how cancer cells spread and give us a better understanding and perhaps a solution to stop it. There has even been talk of usage of nanobots that communicate with each other to target cancer cells.

Swarm intelligence opens doors to many possibilities and is a really interesting field of research to get involved with if you are interested in computer science.


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