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Software Programming Technology

Incorporating Swarm Intelligence Into Computer AI 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-show-this-to-the-left-4-dead-guys dept.
An anonymous reader writes "From optimizing truck delivery routes to inspiring nerve-cell-based cognition models, ant intelligence has arrived. From the Economist: 'In 1992 Dr. Dorigo and his group began developing Ant Colony Optimisation (ACO), an algorithm that looks for solutions to a problem by simulating a group of ants wandering over an area and laying down pheromones. ACO proved good at solving travelling-salesman-type problems. Since then it has grown into a whole family of algorithms, which have been applied to many practical questions. ... Ant-like algorithms have also been applied to the problem of routing information through communication networks. Dr. Dorigo and Gianni Di Caro, another researcher at IDSIA, have developed AntNet, a routing protocol in which packets of information hop from node to node, leaving a trace that signals the "quality" of their trip as they do so. Other packets sniff the trails thus created and choose accordingly. In computer simulations and tests on small-scale networks, AntNet has been shown to outperform existing routing protocols."
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Incorporating Swarm Intelligence Into Computer AI

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Government can do it better [slashdot.org].
    • by naz404 (1282810)
      Well, here's my take on it.

      I made a visualization of ant pixel bots wandering around a map and laying down virtual pheromone trails as an art project. The results are pretty psychedelic :)

      Java applet written in Processing [processing.org] years ago:

      http://object404.com/lab/bloodlines [object404.com]

      Interestingly, I was able to reproduce the conditions that made ants wander in weird circular loop swarms in Brazil :D
  • It just sounds like the classic hill climbing algorithm [wikipedia.org] to me.

    • Re:Hill Climbing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Friday August 13, 2010 @04:52PM (#33246412) Journal

      It just sounds like the classic hill climbing algorithm to me.

      That's because it's very similar -- with a massive stochastic component. It might be effective at routing, but I image leaving "pheromone traces" over network routes to indicate quality (latency, bandwidth, whatever) is something that will make sure security researchers have jobs for a long, long time.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by FrootLoops (1817694)

        but I image leaving "pheromone traces" over network routes to indicate quality (latency, bandwidth, whatever) is something that will make sure security researchers have jobs for a long, long time.

        Why? I don't see why you'd need uniquely identifiable information left behind in the "pheromone". Hopefully a decent spec would also be sensitive to privacy concerns and would simply have an "off" bit as well.

        • Hopefully a decent spec would also be sensitive to privacy concerns and would simply have an "off" bit as well.

          I wasn't talking about privacy, but rather security in terms of the routing algorithm being gamed for malicious reasons.

      • by dikarus (1878498)
        it's not really a stochastic hill-climbing algorithm. aco is based on repeated solution sampling, where each solution is constructed (by an 'ant') by stochastically selecting solution components one-at-a-time (e.g., in a tsp, by adding cities to the partial solution until a feasible Hamiltonian tour is constructed). The outcome of each constructed solution is then used to update/learn pheromone variables, that in turn bias/direct the stochastic decision policy that is applied to select each individual solut
    • I prefer "particle swarm optimization [wikipedia.org]" a la here [amzn.to].
      • by ph43thon (619990)

        I concur! The concept of particle swarm optimizations is so simple.. (and me being fairly dumb, me like so much).

        One particular approach I like is where you have randomly defined neighborhoods for your particles. And as the simulation progresses.. members of the neighborhood that do well get more random connections to other algorithms while ones that do worse lose connections.

        Then, the particles just move towards (with some random perturbations) whatever member of the neighborhood is doing "better" (howev

  • by bhcompy (1877290)
    That would be the routing table from hell
  • IDSIA (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I split in their general direction.

    Who/what the fuck are they, Mr. Summary Writer?

  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday August 13, 2010 @04:49PM (#33246376) Homepage

    Until it passed by a group of people having a picnic.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      or until someone breaks out the Magnifying Lens Protocol.

  • Swarm logic would be wonderful as a routing protocol, though would prevent protocols like UDP from ever getting packets through in any sort of decent order. though the system would be wonderful for many protocols, anything with ordered sequential data streams would see little to no benefit.
    • The swarm could be at the connection level -- swarms of connections finding the best routes over time, but within any given established connection, packets still travel single-file (like sand people, to hide their numbers.)

    • Re:Swarm UDP? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wraithlyn (133796) on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:49PM (#33247338)

      I'm not sure I understand your post.

      Swarm logic would [...] prevent protocols like UDP from ever getting packets through in any sort of decent order

      UDP packet order is already unreliable. You have to build in your own sequencing and error-correction logic at the application level (if you need it).

      anything with ordered sequential data streams would see little to no benefit

      Again, UDP does not fit this description. Are you sure you're not confusing TCP and UDP?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_Datagram_Protocol#Comparison_of_UDP_and_TCP [wikipedia.org]

      • by amorsen (7485)

        UDP packet order is already unreliable. You have to build in your own sequencing and error-correction logic at the application level (if you need it).

        For both UDP and TCP, most actual uses require packet order to be almost-maintained. TCP gets basically useless if there is more than a little bit of packet reordering, and VoIP with packet reordering is no fun at all.

  • Nothing new here... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:13PM (#33246620)

    Dorigo et al. made their groundbreaking paper in 1996 (based on observations by Deneubourg in 89), and then nothing. Nothing new on the theoretical part, no new application. Even routing using ACO like algorithm has been published as early as 1994. The newest extension based on these algorithms is an interactive distributed image retrieval system by Picard et al. back in about 2006 (as far as I know). So nothing new nor groundbreaking here.

    • Can I join in with your sentiment, and just say, WTF?

      It's like Slashdot has just discovered early 1990s AI research and confused it with modern news. ACO has been around for so long now that it's a standard tool in the toolbox of the developer who has a basic grounding in AI along with genetic algorithms and particle swarm optimisation. As the AC says, it's already been used in routing protocols.

      Why is Slashdot reporting this? What is the story meant to be here exactly? Even TFA just seems to be a very very

  • by wagadog (545179) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:23PM (#33246694) Journal

    How is "AntNet, a routing protocol in which packets of information hop from node to node, leaving a trace that signals the "quality" of their trip as they do so..." any different from bog standard hop count updates on existing routers, and routing on the basis of the shortest path?

    I think the authors are playing semantic games here, not doing research.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, for one, ants don't do OSPF...

      It's been many years since I read up on this, but here goes: Like pheromone, the traces decay, or "evaporate", over time. Yet the next packet deposits new pheromone. Do this a number of times over a number of paths through a number of nodes, and statistically the shortest path will accumulate the most pheromone, and hence the shortest path will "emerge" from the rest.

      OSPF and hop counts are deterministic. This method is a lot more stochastic, and hence could be easier to

    • by dikarus (1878498)

      you should read the original papers before saying that the authors play semantic games ;-)
      http://www.idsia.ch/~gianni/antnet.html [idsia.ch]

      the differences are many, here are some important ones. Full paths are explicitly sampled by control packets (the 'ants') (wich is quite different from locally observing link costs and then flooding them). Sampling full paths also involves some
      core issues that do not find any counterpart in ospf: how often ants are generated (i.e., when, how often, do I need to refresh my local ro

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by amorsen (7485)

      It's very different. OSPF requires everyone to know the layout of the complete network. For mesh networks, OSPF is useless, it never converges. Attempts to amend OSPF to work for mesh networks have so far failed.

      AntNet works quite badly, but it does get most of the traffic to its destination most of the time. That is a lot better than anyone else does.

  • Interesting Paper (Score:4, Informative)

    by stoanhart (876182) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:44PM (#33246842)

    I just covered Ant-based load balancing on communications networks in a distributed systems class. Here's the paper we read. It's an easy read, and quite interesting.

    http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/96/HPL-96-76.pdf [hp.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dikarus (1878498)

      that was one of the original papers on the topic, I suggest also to read the (a bit later) AntNet papers I wrote with Dorigo. I have a web page on the topic (nothing much, but there are some good references there):

      http://www.idsia.ch/~gianni/antnet.html [idsia.ch]

  • by mrflash818 (226638) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:56PM (#33246920) Homepage Journal

    Kinda sounds like an adaptive traceroute. Perhaps traceroute was antlike before it became in vogue :)

  • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:19PM (#33247066)
    How do you incorporate Swarm intelligence into computer AI? Simple - SPAWN MORE OVERLORDS!
  • You mean to say that this thing is measured as outperforming non-statistical recursive routing methods?

    "good at solving" - define "good" here, and how does it compare to a directed algorithm

    "good at thinking up solutions" - wait, this is different. now they're not solving, they're thinking-up solutions. instead of being dumb actors with rule-based behaviors and reacting to external stimuli, they're now using their own internal models to plan how they will route themselves. (no, it isn't, i'm being sarcas

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      - i think my brain just asploded.

      That's because you were acting and not thinking.

      Slightly more seriously, the above post acts as a nice illustration of the fact you can go on ranting about your own private brand of Cartesian dualism all you like, just so long as you're always allowed to shut down anyone talking to you by redefining terms every now and then.

      In this case, it's done by trying to enforce a specific, private, and egocentric definition of "think". It's one of those irregular verbs: I think, you may or may not think, that non-ant

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Your hypocrisy is noted and dismissed as ludicrous flaming.

        My criticism of their use of the word "think" is appropriate. I bet you think that evolving an instinct is "learning" and colony collapse is "forgetting".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by FrootLoops (1817694)
      Summary: the article is full of weasel words and is very non-technical. If that's not your cup of tea, read the paper linked above.
  • by jewishbaconzombies (1861376) on Friday August 13, 2010 @07:04PM (#33247454)
    >format /dev/fd0

    >ANT: We must save the queen!
    >ANT: Which one of us is the queen?
    >ANT: I'm the queen!
    >ANT: No, I'm the queen!
    (smashing of glass sound)
    >ANT: Freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom!
  • Economist Article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mark99 (459508) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @04:14AM (#33249678) Journal

    Why are we reposting an economist article? I would think SlashDot could come up with an article that goes somewhat deeper than this.

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