From the Real Ant to the Artificial Ant: Applications in Combinatorial Optimization, Data Clustering, Collective Robotics and Image Processing

From the Real Ant to the Artificial Ant: Applications in Combinatorial Optimization, Data Clustering, Collective Robotics and Image Processing

Moussa Diaf (Université Mouloud Mammeri, Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria), Kamal Hammouche (Université Mouloud Mammeri, Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria) and Patrick Siarry (Université Paris 12 Val de Marne, Créteil, France)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/ijsss.2012070103
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Abstract

Biological studies highlighting the collective behavior of ants in fulfilling various tasks by using their complex indirect communication process have constituted the starting point for many physical systems and various ant colony algorithms. Each ant colony is considered as a superorganism which operates as a unified entity made up of simple agents. These agents (ants) interact locally with one another and with their environment, particularly in finding the shortest path from the nest to food sources without any centralized control dictating the behavior of individual agents. It is this coordination mechanism that has inspired researchers to develop plenty of metaheuristic algorithms in order to find good solutions for NP-hard combinatorial optimization problems. In this article, the authors give a biological description of these fascinating insects and their complex indirect communication process. From this rich source of inspiration for researchers, the authors show how, through the real ant, artificial ant is modeled and applied in combinatorial optimization, data clustering, collective robotics, and image processing.
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The Real Ant

Ant is an insect of the Formicidae family, which belongs to the Hymenoptera order that includes, among others, bees and wasps (Bolton, Alpert, Ward & Naskrecki, 2007). Ants are millions of billion in number, and their total mass is equivalent to the total mass of the human beings. They have been living on Earth for more than 100 million years and they have colonized all the terrestrial spaces compatible with their lives including the deserts, with the exception of the glacial zones and the marine environments (Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990). They can be divided into 16 subfamilies, 300 kinds and roughly 20,000 species that vary in size, color, and way of life. The largest ant can reach over 25 mm in length, while the smallest is about 2.5 mm. Some ants can lift items 50 times their own weight.

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