Swarm intelligence (SI) is the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. The concept is employed in work on artificial intelligence. The expression was introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang in 1989, in the context of cellular robotic systems.
SI systems are typically made up of a population of simple agents or boids interacting locally with one another and with their environment. The inspiration often comes from nature, especially biological systems. The agents follow very simple rules, and although there is no centralized control structure dictating how individual agents should behave, local, and to a certain degree random, interactions between such agents lead to the emergence of "intelligent" global behavior, unknown to the individual agents. Natural examples of SI include ant colonies, bird flocking, animal herding, bacterial growth, and fish schooling. The definition of swarm intelligence is still not quite clear. In principle, it should be a multi-agent system that has self-organized behaviour that shows some intelligent behaviour.
The application of swarm principles to robots is called swarm robotics, while 'swarm intelligence' refers to the more general set of algorithms. 'Swarm prediction' has been used in the context of forecasting problems.
Ant colony optimization
Ant colony optimization (ACO) is a class of algorithms modeled on the actions of an ant colony. ACO methods are useful in problems that need to find paths to goals. Artificial 'ants'—simulation agents—locate optimal solutions by moving through a parameter space representing all possible solutions. Natural ants lay down pheromones directing each other to resources while exploring their environment. The simulated 'ants' similarly record their positions and the quality of their solutions, so that in later simulation iterations more ants locate better solutions.
Artificial bee colony algorithm
Artificial bee colony algorithm (ABC) is a meta-heuristic algorithm introduced by Karaboga in 2005, and simulates the foraging behaviour of honey bees. The ABC algorithm has three phases: employed bee, onlooker bee and scout bee. In the employed bee and the onlooker bee phases, bees exploit the sources by local searches in the neighbourhood of the solutions selected based on deterministic selection in the employed bee phase and the probabilistic selection in the onlooker bee phase. In the scout bee phase which is an analogy of abandoning exhausted food sources in the foraging process, solutions that are not beneficial anymore for search progress are abandoned, and new solutions are inserted instead of having them explore other regions in the search space.
Backtracking search optimization algorithm
Backtracking search optimization algorithm (BSA) is a swarm-based evolutionary algorithm (EA) for solving real-valued numerical optimization problems. The problem solving success of BSA was compared to the successes of PSO, CMAES, ABC, JDE, CLPSO and SADE in 2013.
Differential search algorithm
Differential search algorithm (DSA) has been inspired by migration of superorganisms. DSA is utilizing the concept of brownian like motion. The problem solving success of DSA was compared to the successes of ABC, JDE, JADE, SADE, EPSDE, GSA, PSO2011 and CMA-ES algorithms for solution of numerical optimization problems in 2012.
Intelligent Water Drops algorithm
Intelligent water Drops (IWD) algorithm is a nature-inspired swarm-based optimization algorithm, which was first introduced in 2007. The IWD algorithm attempts to mimic the behavior of natural water drops in rivers. Here, the soil is the quantity that is carried by each artificial water drop in the algorithm. Several versions of the IWD algorithm have been suggested for different applications.
Multi-swarm optimization is a variant of particle swarm optimization (PSO) based on the use of multiple sub-swarms instead of one (standard) swarm. The general approach in multi-swarm optimization is that each sub-swarm focuses on a specific region while a specific diversification method decides where and when to launch the sub-swarms. The multi-swarm framework is especially fitted for the optimization on multi-modal problems, where multiple (local) optima exist.
Particle swarm optimization
Particle swarm optimization (PSO) is a global optimization algorithm for dealing with problems in which a best solution can be represented as a point or surface in an n-dimensional space. Hypotheses are plotted in this space and seeded with an initial velocity, as well as a communication channel between the particles. Particles then move through the solution space, and are evaluated according to some fitness criterion after each timestep. Over time, particles are accelerated towards those particles within their communication grouping which have better fitness values. The main advantage of such an approach over other global minimization strategies such as simulated annealing is that the large number of members that make up the particle swarm make the technique impressively resilient to the problem of local minima.
Swarm Intelligence-based techniques can be used in a number of applications. The U.S. military is investigating swarm techniques for controlling unmanned vehicles. The European Space Agency is thinking about an orbital swarm for self-assembly and interferometry. NASA is investigating the use of swarm technology for planetary mapping. A 1992 paper by M. Anthony Lewis and George A. Bekey discusses the possibility of using swarm intelligence to control nanobots within the body for the purpose of killing cancer tumors. Conversely al-Rifaie and Aber have used Stochastic Diffusion Search to help locate tumours. Swarm intelligence has also been applied for data mining.
The use of Swarm Intelligence in Telecommunication Networks has also been researched, in the form of Ant Based Routing. This was pioneered separately by Dorigo et al. and Hewlett Packard in the mid-1990s, with a number of variations since. Basically this uses a probabilistic routing table rewarding/reinforcing the route successfully traversed by each "ant" (a small control packet) which flood the network. Reinforcement of the route in the forwards, reverse direction and both simultaneously have been researched: backwards reinforcement requires a symmetric network and couples the two directions together; forwards reinforcement rewards a route before the outcome is known (but then you pay for the cinema before you know how good the film is). As the system behaves stochastically and is therefore lacking repeatability, there are large hurdles to commercial deployment. Mobile media and new technologies have the potential to change the threshold for collective action due to swarm intelligence (Rheingold: 2002, P175).
The location of transmission infrastructure for wireless communication networks is an important engineering problem involving competing objectives. A minimal selection of locations (or sites) are required subject to providing adequate area coverage for users. A very different ant inspired swam intelligence algorithm, Stochastic diffusion search (SDS), has been successfully used to provide a general model for this problem, related to circle packing and set covering. It has been shown that the SDS can be applied to identify suitable solutions even for large problem instances.
Airlines have also used ant-based routing in assigning aircraft arrivals to airport gates. At Southwest Airlines a software program uses swarm theory, or swarm intelligence—the idea that a colony of ants works better than one alone. Each pilot acts like an ant searching for the best airport gate. "The pilot learns from his experience what's the best for him, and it turns out that that's the best solution for the airline," Douglas A. Lawson explains. As a result, the "colony" of pilots always go to gates they can arrive at and depart from quickly. The program can even alert a pilot of plane back-ups before they happen. "We can anticipate that it's going to happen, so we'll have a gate available," Lawson says.
Artists are using swarm technology as a means of creating complex interactive systems or simulating crowds.
Stanley and Stella in: Breaking the Ice was the first movie to make use of swarm technology for rendering, realistically depicting the movements of groups of fish and birds using the Boids system. Tim Burton's Batman Returns also made use of swarm technology for showing the movements of a group of bats. The Lord of the Rings film trilogy made use of similar technology, known as Massive, during battle scenes. Swarm technology is particularly attractive because it is cheap, robust, and simple.
Airlines have used swarm theory to simulate passengers boarding a plane. Southwest Airlines researcher Douglas A. Lawson used an ant-based computer simulation employing only six interaction rules to evaluate boarding times using various boarding methods.(Miller, 2010, xii-xviii).
In a series of works al-Rifaie et al have successfully used two swarm intelligence algorithms – one mimicking the behaviour of one species of ants (Leptothorax acervorum) foraging (Stochastic diffusion search (SDS)) and the other algorithm mimicking the behaviour of birds ﬂocking (Particle swarm optimization PSO) – to describe a novel integration strategy exploiting the local search properties of the PSO with global SDS behaviour. The resulting hybrid algorithm is used to sketch novel drawings of an input image, exploliting an artistic tension between the local behaviour of the ‘birds ﬂocking’ - as they seek to follow the input sketch - and the global behaviour of the ‘ants foraging’ - as they seek to encourage the ﬂock to explore novel regions of the canvas. The 'creativity’ of this hybrid swarm system has been analysed under the philosophical light of the ‘rhizome’ in the context of Deleuze’s well known ‘Orchid and Wasp’ metaphor.
In popular culture
Swarm intelligence-related concepts and references can be found throughout popular culture, frequently as some form of collective intelligence or group mind involving far more agents than used in current applications.
- Science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon may have been the first to discuss swarm intelligences equal or superior to humanity. In Last and First Men (1931), a swarm intelligence from Mars consists of tiny individual cells that communicate with each other by radio waves; in Star Maker (1937) swarm intelligences founded numerous civilizations.
- The Invincible (1964), a science fiction novel by Stanisław Lem where a human spaceship finds intelligent behavior in a flock of small particles that were able to defend themselves against what they found as a menace.
- In the dramatic novel and subsequent mini-series The Andromeda Strain (1969) by Michael Crichton, an extraterrestrial virus communicates between individual cells and displays the ability to think and react individually and as a whole, and as such displays a semblance of "swarm intelligence".
- Ygramul, the Many - an intelligent being consisting of a swarm of many wasp-like insects, a character in the novel The Neverending Story (1979) written by Michael Ende. Ygramul is also mentioned in a scientific paper Flocks, Herds, and Schools written by Knut Hartmann (Computer Graphics and Interactive Systems, Otto-von-Guericke-University of Magdeburg).
- Swarm (1982), a short story by Bruce Sterling about a mission undertaken by a faction of humans, to understand and exploit a space-faring swarm intelligence.
- The Borg (1989) in Star Trek
- The Hacker and the Ants (1994), a book by Rudy Rucker on AI ants within a virtual environment.
- Hallucination (1995), a posthumous short story by Isaac Asimov about an alien insect-like swarm, capable of organization and provided with a sort of swarm intelligence.
- The Zerg (1998) of the Starcraft universe demonstrate such concepts when in groups and enhanced by the psychic control of taskmaster breeds.
- Wyrm (1998), a novel by Mark Fabi, deals with a virus developing emergent intelligence on the Internet.
- Decipher (2001) by Stel Pavlou deals with the swarm intelligence of nanobots that guard against intruders in Atlantis.
- In the video game series Halo, the Covenant (2001) species known as the Hunters are made up of thousands of worm-like creatures which are individually non-sentient, but, collectively form a sentient being.
- Prey (2002), by Michael Crichton deals with the danger of nanobots escaping from human control and developing a swarm intelligence.
- The science fiction novel The Swarm (2004), by Frank Schätzing, deals with underwater single-celled creatures who act in unison to destroy humanity.
- In the video game Mass Effect (2007), a galactic race known as the Quarians created a race of humanoid sentient machines known as the Geth.
Detailed theory and software
- Beni, G., Wang, J. Swarm Intelligence in Cellular Robotic Systems, Proceed. NATO Advanced Workshop on Robots and Biological Systems, Tuscany, Italy, June 26–30 (1989)
- Ant Colony Optimization by Marco Dorigo and Thomas Stützle, MIT Press, 2004. ISBN 0-262-04219-3
- Karaboga, Dervis (2010). "Artificial bee colony algorithm". Scholarpedia 5 (3): 6915.
- Civicioglu, P. (2013). "Backtracking Search Optimization Algorithm for numerical optimization problems". Applied Mathematics and Computation 219: 8121–8144.
- Civicioglu, P. (2012). "Transforming geocentric cartesian coordinates to geodetic coordinates by using differential search algorithm". Computers & Geosciences 46: 229–247. doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2011.12.011.
- Shah-Hosseini, H. (2009). "The intelligent water drops algorithm: a nature-inspired swarm-based optimization algorithm". International Journal of Bio-inspired Computation (IJBIC) 1 (1/2): 71–79. doi:10.1504/IJBIC.2009.022775.
- Parsopoulos, K. E.; Vrahatis, M. N. (2002). "Recent Approaches to Global Optimization Problems Through Particle Swarm Optimization". Natural Computing 1 (2-3): 235–306. doi:10.1023/A:1016568309421.
- Particle Swarm Optimization by Maurice Clerc, ISTE, ISBN 1-905209-04-5, 2006.
- Lewis, M. Anthony; Bekey, George A. "The Behavioral Self-Organization of Nanorobots Using Local Rules". Proceedings of the 1992 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.
- Identifying metastasis in bone scans with Stochastic Diffusion Search, al-Rifaie, M.M. & Aber, A., Proc. IEEE Information Technology in Medicine and Education, ITME 2012, pp. 519-523.
- Martens, D.; Baesens, B.; Fawcett, T. (2011). "Editorial Survey: Swarm Intelligence for Data Mining". Machine Learning 82 (1): 1–42. doi:10.1007/s10994-010-5216-5.
- Whitaker, R.M., Hurley, S.. An agent based approach to site selection for wireless networks. Proc ACM Symposium on Applied Computing, pp. 574–577, (2002).
- "Planes, Trains and Ant Hills: Computer scientists simulate activity of ants to reduce airline delays". Science Daily. April 1, 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
- Miller, Peter (2010). The Smart Swarm: How understanding flocks, schools, and colonies can make us better at communicating, decision making, and getting things done. New York: Avery. ISBN 978-1-58333-390-7.
- al-Rifaie, MM, Bishop, J.M., & Caines, S., Creativity and Autonomy in Swarm Intelligence Systems, Cognitive Computing 4:3, pp. 320-331, (2012).
- Bernstein, Jeremy. "Project Swarm". Report on technology inspired by swarms in nature.
- Bonabeau, Eric; Dorigo, Marco; Theraulaz, Guy (1999). Swarm Intelligence: From Natural to Artificial Systems. ISBN 0-19-513159-2. Complete bibliography
- Engelbrecht, Andries. Fundamentals of Computational Swarm Intelligence. Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-09191-6.
- Fisher, L. (2009). The Perfect Swarm : The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life. Basic Books.
- Horn, Eva; Gisi, Lucas (Ed.) Marco (2009). Schwärme – Kollektive ohne Zentrum. Eine Wissensgeschichte zwischen Leben und Information. Bielefeld. ISBN 978-3-8376-1133-5.
- Kaiser, Carolin; Kröckel, Johannes; Bodendorf, Freimut (2010). "Swarm Intelligence for Analyzing Opinions in Online Communities". Proceedings of the 43rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. pp. 1–9.
- Kennedy, James; Eberhart, Russell C. Swarm Intelligence. ISBN 1-55860-595-9.
- Miller, Peter (July 2007), "Swarm Theory", National Geographic Magazine
- Resnick, Mitchel. Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds. ISBN 0-262-18162-2.
- Ridge, E.; Curry, E. (2007). "A roadmap of nature-inspired systems research and development". Multiagent and Grid Systems 3 (1): 3–8. CiteSeerX: 10.1.1.67.1030.
- Ridge, E.; Kudenko, D.; Kazakov, D.; Curry, E. (2005). "Moving Nature-Inspired Algorithms to Parallel, Asynchronous and Decentralised Environments". Self-Organization and Autonomic Informatics (I) 135: 35–49. CiteSeerX: 10.1.1.64.3403.
- Swarm Intelligence (journal). Chief Editor: Marco Dorigo. Springer New York. ISSN 1935-3812 (Print) 1935-3820 (Online) 
- Waldner, Jean-Baptiste (2007). Nanocomputers and Swarm Intelligence. ISTE. ISBN 978-1-84704-002-2.
- Yang, Xin-She (2011). "Metaheuristic Optimization". Scholarpedia 6 (8): 11472. doi:10.4249/scholarpedia.11472.
- Zimmer, Carl (November 13, 2007). "From Ants to People: an Instinct to Swarm". The New York Times.