Network protocols modelled on the behaviour of ants may be significantly more efficient and better able to deal with congestion, according to researchers.
Scientists at the Free University of Brussels experimenting with algorithm programs based on foraging ant behaviour found that the tools were able to reconfigure the network to provide maximum speed and efficiency.
Electronic 'ants' set loose on a network found the quickest way from node to node and used this information to direct data packets to the most efficient route.
Apparently the electronic ants beat all known alternative methods and systems for re-routing traffic quickly.
But the ant algorithms aren't just limited to data networking, say the researchers. The programs can be applied to delivery routes to find the most effective way for a van to make it to all destinations in the shortest time.
The BBC reported that a fuel delivery company on the Italian-Swiss border is using derivatives of the ant algorithms to work out the best route for its drivers to get supplies to all the petrol stations.
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