Ants are amazing animals. Drop something tasty on the floor and they will quickly build an efficient highway from their nest and back to take the morsels home. They can do this despite very poor, in some species non-existent, eye-sight, no voice to talk to each other, and a less than impressive individual IQ.
Ants are very good at forming highways.
So striking is this ability that in the 1990s computer scientists began to wonder whether they could mimic the ants' behaviour in computer programmes designed to solve complex problems.
Today, ant colony optimisation algorithms (ACOs) are widely used to solve problems in which many components need to be combined in some optimal way: whether it's deciding delivery routes of a fleet of trucks or the timetables of doctors in a hospital.
To find out more read The power of ants.
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