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# Ant colony optimization algorithms

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**Ant colony optimization algorithms
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In computer science and operations research, the ant colony optimization algorithm (ACO) is a probabilistic technique for solving computational problems which can be reduced to finding good paths through graphs. This algorithm is a member of the ant colony algorithms family, in swarm intelligence methods, and it constitutes some metaheuristic optimizations. Initially proposed by Marco Dorigo in 1992 in his PhD thesis,[1][2] the first algorithm was aiming to search for an optimal path Ant behavior was the inspiration for the in a graph, based on the behavior of ants seeking a path between their metaheuristic optimization technique. colony and a source of food. The original idea has since diversified to solve a wider class of numerical problems, and as a result, several problems have emerged, drawing on various aspects of the behavior of ants.

Overview

Summary

In the natural world, ants (initially) wander randomly, and upon finding food return to their colony while laying down pheromone trails. If other ants find such a path, they are likely not to keep travelling at random, but to instead follow the trail, returning and reinforcing it if they eventually find food (see Ant communication). Over time, however, the pheromone trail starts to evaporate, thus reducing its attractive strength. The more time it takes for an ant to travel down the path and back again, the more time the pheromones have to evaporate. A short path, by comparison, gets marched over more frequently, and thus the pheromone density becomes higher on shorter paths than longer ones. Pheromone evaporation also has the advantage of avoiding the convergence to a locally optimal solution. If there were no evaporation at all, the paths chosen by the first ants would tend to be excessively attractive to the following ones. In that case, the exploration of the solution space would be constrained. Thus, when one ant finds a good (i.e., short) path from the colony to a food source, other ants are more likely to follow that path, and positive feedback eventually leads to all the ants' following a single path. The idea of the ant colony algorithm is to mimic this behavior with "simulated ants" walking around the graph representing the problem to solve.

6. This . 1. only an ant located where the pheromones were left has a notion of them. The information exchanged has a local scope. [3] [4] A model explaining this behaviour is as follows: 1. if the quantity of pheromone remained the same over time on all edges. in a given amount of time. 5. and therefore become more attractive. The short route will be increasingly enhanced. 3. to a stable state where the route is composed of the strongest edges. but the strengthening of the runway makes it more attractive as the shortest route. The first ant finds the food source (F). If it discovers a food source. This system is based on positive feedback (the deposit of pheromone attracts other ants that will strengthen it themselves) and negative (dissipation of the route by evaporation prevents the system from thrashing). the ant evaluates the solution and modifies the trail value on the components used in its solution. The basic philosophy of the algorithm involves the movement of a colony of ants through the different states of the problem influenced by two local decision policies.Ant colony optimization algorithms 2 Detailed The original idea comes from observing the exploitation of food resources among ants. Returning to the colony. the track. They exchange information indirectly by depositing pheromones. Theoretically. This system is called "Stigmergy" and occurs in many social animal societies (it has been studied in the case of the construction of pillars in the nests of termites). The algorithm will move from an unstable state in which no edge is stronger than another. Eventually. or during the construction phase. trails and attractiveness. 4. biologists have observed that ants tended to use the shortest route. leaving in its path a trail of pheromone. 2. it returns more or less directly to the nest. leaving behind a trail pheromone (b) 2. each such ant incrementally constructs a solution to the problem. 3. all the ants have determined and therefore "chosen" the shortest route. all detailing the status of their "work". in which ants’ individually limited cognitive abilities have collectively been able to find the shortest path between a food source and the nest. because of feedback. 8. then returns to the nest (N). a slight variation on an edge will be amplified and thus allow the choice of an edge.. When an ant completes a solution. An ant (called "blitz") runs more or less at random around the colony. more or less directly. long portions of other ways lose their trail pheromones. Ants use the environment as a medium of communication. Thereby. The mechanism to solve a problem too complex to be addressed by single ants is a good example of a self-organized system. these ants will strengthen the route. Ants take the shortest route. 7. no route would be chosen. viz. Ants indiscriminately follow four possible ways. If there are two routes to reach the same food source then. In a series of experiments on a colony of ants with a choice between two unequal length paths leading to a source of food. The long route will eventually disappear because pheromones are volatile. nearby ants will be inclined to follow. the shorter one will be traveled by more ants than the long route. via any way (a). However. These pheromones are attractive.

Ant colony optimization algorithms pheromone information will direct the search of the future ants. [8] Convergence For some versions of the algorithm. 3 Common extensions Here are some of most popular variations of ACO Algorithms Elitist ant system The global best solution deposits pheromone on every iteration along with all the other ants.[7] Ant Colony Optimization with Fuzzy Logic This method introduces fuzzy intelligence into ants to accelerate searching ability. trail evaporation and daemon actions. All edges are initialized to τmax and reinitialized to τmax when nearing stagnation. ants in the feasible domain can explore their chosen regions rapidly and efficiently.. with enhanced global search capability and accuracy. and then algorithms for ACS and MMAS. By using an orthogonal design method. In 2004. [5] Ant Colony System It has been presented above.. it is possible to prove that it is convergent (i. Continuous orthogonal ant colony (COAC) The pheromone deposit mechanism of COAC is to enable ants to search for solutions collaboratively and effectively.τmin] Only global best or iteration best tour deposited pheromone. The first evidence of a convergence ant colony algorithm was made in 2000. the algorithm also includes two more mechanisms. Max-Min ant system (MMAS) Added Maximum and Minimum pheromone amounts [τmax. . Like most metaheuristics. The daemon actions are used to bias the search process from a non-local perspective. Furthermore. They proposed these metaheuristics as a "research-based model". it is able to find the global optimum in finite time).e. such that solutions with shorter paths deposit more pheromone than the solutions with longer paths. The orthogonal design method and the adaptive radius adjustment method can also be extended to other optimization algorithms for delivering wider advantages in solving practical problems. Zlochin and his colleagues[9] showed that COA-type algorithms could be assimilated methods of stochastic gradient descent. viz. on the cross-entropy and estimation of distribution algorithm.[6] Rank-based ant system (ASrank) All solutions are ranked according to their length. Trail evaporation reduces all trail values over time thereby avoiding any possibilities of getting stuck in local optima. The amount of pheromone deposited is then weighted for each solution. it is very difficult to estimate the theoretical speed of convergence. the graph-based ant system algorithm.

typically and trail level for the other possible state transitions. For ant combination of two values. . typically given for a TSP problem (with moves where is the cost of the th ant's tour (typically length) and is a constant. Trails are updated usually when all ants have completed their solution. the trails are updated by where is the amount of pheromone deposited for a state transition and is the amount of pheromone deposited by corresponding to arcs of the graph) by .Ant colony optimization algorithms 4 Example pseudo-code and formulae procedure ACO_MetaHeuristic while(not_termination) generateSolutions() daemonActions() pheromoneUpdate() end while end procedure Edge selection An ant is a simple computational agent in the ant colony optimization algorithm. . The trail level represents a posteriori indication of the desirability of that move. the attractiveness priori desirability of that move and the trail level of the move. respectively. In general. The intermediate solutions are referred to as solution states. corresponding to a more complete intermediate solution. the th ant moves from state to state with probability where is the amount of pheromone deposited for transition from state influence of . is the desirability of state transition the distance) and ≥ 1 is a parameter to control the influence of to . each ant moves from a state to state . Thus. as computed by some heuristic indicating the a of the move. indicating how proficient it has been in the past to make that particular move. viz. the probability of moving from state to state depends on the one of these in probability. Pheromone update When all the ants have completed a solution.. is the pheromone evaporation coefficient th ant. At each iteration of the algorithm. and moves to .0≤ and is a parameter to control the . It iteratively constructs a solution for the problem at hand. where is represent the attractiveness (a priori knowledge. each ant computes a set of feasible expansions to its current state in each iteration. increasing or decreasing the level of trails corresponding to moves that were part of "good" or "bad" solutions.

the ant colony algorithm can be run continuously and adapt to changes in real time. A distant city has less chance of being chosen (the visibility). At each stage. multi-targets and parallel implementations. the ant deposits more pheromones on all edges it traversed. Having completed its journey. This is of interest in network routing and urban transportation systems. They have an advantage over simulated annealing and genetic algorithm approaches of similar problems when the graph may change dynamically. trails of pheromones evaporate. It must visit each city exactly once. if the journey is short. 3. The ants prefer the smaller drop of honey over the more abundant. each making one of the possible round-trips along the cities. The general algorithm is relatively simple and based on a set of ants. It has also been used to produce near-optimal solutions to the travelling salesman problem. but less The first ACO algorithm was called the Ant system [10] and it was nutritious. 4. 2. ranging from quadratic assignment to protein folding or routing vehicles and a lot of derived methods have been adapted to dynamic problems in real variables. the greater the probability that that edge will be chosen.Ant colony optimization algorithms 5 Applications Ant colony optimization algorithms have been applied to many combinatorial optimization problems. aimed to solve the travelling salesman problem. After each iteration. stochastic problems. . the ant chooses to move from one city to another according to some rules: 1. Knapsack problem. 5. The more intense the pheromone trail laid out on an edge between two cities. sugar. in which the goal is to find the shortest round-trip to link a series of cities.

Ant colony optimization algorithms 6 Scheduling problem • • • • • • • • • Job-shop scheduling problem (JSP)[11] Open-shop scheduling problem (OSP)[12][13] Permutation flow shop problem (PFSP)[14] Single machine total tardiness problem (SMTTP)[15] Single machine total weighted tardiness problem (SMTWTP)[16][17][18] Resource-constrained project scheduling problem (RCPSP)[19] Group-shop scheduling problem (GSP)[20] Single-machine total tardiness problem with sequence dependent setup times (SMTTPDST)[21] Multistage Flowshop Scheduling Problem (MFSP) with sequence dependent setup/changeover times[22] Vehicle routing problem • • • • • • • • • Capacitated vehicle routing problem (CVRP)[23][24][25] Multi-depot vehicle routing problem (MDVRP)[26] Period vehicle routing problem (PVRP)[27] Split delivery vehicle routing problem (SDVRP)[28] Stochastic vehicle routing problem (SVRP)[29] Vehicle routing problem with pick-up and delivery (VRPPD)[30][31] Vehicle routing problem with time windows (VRPTW)[32][33][34] Time Dependent Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows (TDVRPTW)[35] Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows and Multiple Service Workers (VRPTWMS) Assignment problem • • • • Quadratic assignment problem (QAP)[36] Generalized assignment problem (GAP)[37][38] Frequency assignment problem (FAP)[39] Redundancy allocation problem (RAP)[40] Set problem • • • • • • Set covering problem(SCP)[41][42] Set partition problem (SPP)[43] Weight constrained graph tree partition problem (WCGTPP)[44] Arc-weighted l-cardinality tree problem (AWlCTP)[45] Multiple knapsack problem (MKP)[46] Maximum independent set problem (MIS)[47] Others • • • • • • Classification[48] Connection-oriented network routing[49] Connectionless network routing[50][51] Data mining [48][52][53][54] Discounted cash flows in project scheduling[55] Distributed Information Retrieval[56][57] • Grid Workflow Scheduling Problem[58] • Image processing[59][60] • Intelligent testing system[61] .

the thing which distinguishes ACO algorithms from other relatives (such as algorithms to estimate the distribution or particle swarm optimization) is precisely their constructive aspect. is built from a combination of several paths. they use an iterative construction of solutions. with solutions being combined or mutated to alter the pool of solutions. In practice. it is possible that the best solution eventually be found. However. • Reactive search optimization focuses on combining machine learning with optimization. The temperature parameter is modified as the algorithm progresses to alter the nature of the search. with solutions of inferior quality being discarded. this definition can be problematic in the case of problems in real variables. division of labour and cooperative transportation. without always sharing the general framework of optimization by canonical ant colonies (COA).Ant colony optimization algorithms • System identification[62][63] • Protein Folding[64][65] • Power Electronic Circuit Design[66] 7 Definition difficulty With an ACO algorithm.[67] Related methods • Genetic algorithms (GA) maintain a pool of solutions rather than just one. It is not easy to give a precise definition of what algorithm is or is not an ant colony. ant colony algorithms are regarded as populated metaheuristics with each solution represented by an ant moving in the search space. the use of an exchange of information between ants via the environment (a principle called "Stigmergy") is deemed enough for an algorithm to belong to the class of ant colony algorithms. the shortest path in a graph. The process of finding superior solutions mimics that of evolution. it is not necessary that an ant actually travels the shortest route: the shortest route can be built from the strongest segments of the best solutions. This principle has led some authors to create the term "value" to organize methods and behavior based on search of food. According to some authors. which is a very general framework in which ant colony algorithms fit. An inferior neighbor is accepted probabilistically based on the difference in quality and a temperature parameter. by adding an internal feedback loop to self-tune the free parameters of an algorithm to the characteristics of the problem. They can be seen as probabilistic multi-agent algorithms using a probability distribution to make the transition between each iteration. The collective behaviour of social insects remains a source of inspiration for researchers. • Simulated annealing (SA) is a related global optimization technique which traverses the search space by generating neighboring solutions of the current solution. in the example of the Travelling salesman problem. because the definition may vary according to the authors and uses. where no structure of 'neighbours' exists. Broadly speaking. Ants mark the best solutions and take account of previous markings to optimize their search. In their versions for combinatorial problems. even though no ant would prove effective. between two points A and B. Thus. of the . The wide variety of algorithms (for optimization or not) seeking self-organization in biological systems has led to the concept of "swarm intelligence". A superior neighbor is always accepted. In combinatorial problems. sorting larvae. Stigmergy algorithms There is in practice a large number of algorithms claiming to be "ant colonies".

and Moyson Manderick have an article on self-organization among ants. Dorigo and Gambardella publish the Ant Colony System. 1959. Aron. which is updated as the solution traverses the solution space. Dorigo proposed the Ant System in his doctoral thesis (which was published in 1992[2]). implementation of a model of behavior for food by Ebling and his colleagues. the work of Goss. which will give the idea of Ant colony optimization algorithms. Pierre-Paul Grassé invented the theory of Stigmergy to explain the behavior of nest building in termites. Stochastic diffusion search (SDS). It is forbidden to move to a solution that contains elements of the tabu list. a tabu list is maintained of partial or complete solutions.extending the ACO. Tabu search (TS) is similar to simulated annealing in that both traverse the solution space by testing mutations of an individual solution. M. an agent-based probabilistic global search and optimization technique best suited to problems where the objective function can be decomposed into multiple independent partial-functions 8 • • • • • • • History Chronology of COA algorithms Chronology of Ant colony optimization algorithms. Hoos and Stützle invent the MAX-MIN Ant System.[70] 1989.[10] • 1996.[3] • 1989. and of the local situation around the current solution. a swarm-based optimization algorithm based on natural water drops flowing in rivers Gravitational Search Algorithm (GSA).[6] . a Swarm intelligence method Ant colony clustering method (ACCM). Colorni [72] was published five years later.[68] 1983. a method that make use of clustering approach. Deneubourg and Pasteels on the collective behavior of Argentine ants.[71] • • • • • 1991. publication of the article on Ant System. tabu search generates many mutated solutions and moves to the solution with the lowest fitness of those generated. Artificial immune system (AIS) algorithms are modeled on vertebrate immune systems.Ant colony optimization algorithms instance. A technical report extracted from the thesis and co-authored by V. a Swarm intelligence method Intelligent Water Drops (IWD).[10] • 1996. While simulated annealing generates only one mutated solution. Maniezzo and A.[69] 1988.[5] • 1997. Particle swarm optimization (PSO). To prevent cycling and encourage greater movement through the solution space. Deneubourg and his colleagues studied the collective behavior of ants.

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