Catalogue of Artificial Intelligence Techniques

   

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Swarm Intelligence

Keywords: behaviour, collective, decetralisation, decetralization, intelligence, robotic, self-organisation, swarm

Categories: Robotics


Author(s): Calum Maciver

In nature certain animals and insects exhibit interesting behaviour. Thousands of fish swim in complete synchronisation, birds fly through the air in exact formation, ants forage for food in regimented fashion. This type of behaviour is called "Swarm Intelligence" and has many applications in the realm of Computer Science.

The original expression came from the scientists Beni and Wang, working on cellular robotic systems at the time. A typical system is characterised by simple autonomous agents working together to create a perceived overall intelligence. There is no central intelligence telling each agent how they should behave but the local interactions often lead to a sense of global behaviour. The overall system retains organisation through the way that the agents all react to each other. This type of decentralisation is useful in systems where a high reliability, low cost and simple solution is required to a larger problem. In sociology the term used is collective behaviour.

An example of this being used in mainstream media is in the Lord of the Rings films. During the battle scenes there had to be many beasts in the background all acting independently but with a spatial awareness of other entities. More importantly swarm intelligence can also be used in optimisation, robotics and military situations.


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