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May 14, 2019

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Ant Colony Optimizationin Swarm and Evolutionary Computing can be submitted for amazing marks and success in life.

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Ant Colony Optimizationin Swarm and Evolutionary Computing can be submitted for amazing marks and success in life.

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live in colonies manifest group integration

and division of labour. Swarm intelligence

are typically made up of a population of

simple agents interacting locally with one

Keywords: Ant colony, Swarm, TSP another and with their environment.

Abstract Although there is normally no centralized

control structure dictating how individual

The complex social behaviours of ants have agents should behave, local interactions

been much studied, and computer scientists between such agents often lead to the

are now finding that these behaviour patterns emergence of global behaviour.

can provide models for solving difficult The rest of the paper is divided as follows:

combinatorial optimization problems. The Sections 1.2 and 1.3 discuss the Ant Colony

attempt to develop algorithms inspired by and other Social Insect Behaviour

one aspect of ant behavior, the ability to find approaches. Section 2 gives a theoretical

shortest paths, has become the field of ant overview and an example of ACO. Variants

colony optimization (ACO). The ant colony of ACO are briefly explained in Section 3.

optimization algorithm (ACO), introduced by In Section 4, the application aspects of

Marco Dorigo, in the year 1992, is a ACO to real world problems is discussed

probabilistic technique for solving with emphasis on the TSP. The next section

computational problems which can be gives the merits and demerits of ACO.

reduced to finding good paths through Finally the conclusion and references are

graphs. This paper presents an overview of given.

this rapidly growing field, from its theoretical

inception to practical applications, including 1.2 Ant Colonies

descriptions of many available ACO

algorithms and their various applications to Ant Communication is accomplished

solve NP-Hard Problems. In this paper, we primarily through chemicals called

also discuss the Travelling Salesman pheromones. Ants communicate to one

Problem. another by laying down pheromones along

their trails. Other ants perceive the presence

1. Introduction. of pheromone and tend to follow paths

1.1 Behaviour of Social Animals where pheromone concentration is higher.

Over time, however, the pheromone trail

Insects are the most diverse group of starts to evaporate, thus reducing its

animals on the earth. Many insects possess attractive strength. The more time it takes

very sensitive organs of perception. for an ant to travel down the path and back

perception. Swarm Intelligence(SI) is an again, the more time the pheromones have

artificial technique based on the study of to evaporate. A short path gets marched

collective, self-organized systems. SI systems over faster, and thus the pheromone density

remains high as it is laid on the path as fast

as it can evaporate.

The distinctive behaviour of ants has been

extensively studied and has inspired a

number of methods and techniques among

which the most successful is the general

purpose optimization technique known as

Ant Colony Optimization (ACO). ACO

exploits a similar mechanism similar to that

of the foraging behaviour of some ant

species. From the early nineties, when the

first ant colony optimization algorithm was

Figure 1:Ant Behaviour first proposed, ACO attracted the attention

A. Ants in a pheromone trail between nest of increasing numbers of researchers and

and food; B. An obstacle interrupts the trail; many successful applications are now

C. Ants find two paths to go around the available. Moreover, a substantial corpus of

obstacle; D. A new pheromone trail is formed theoretical results is becoming available

along the shorter path. that provides useful guidelines to

researchers and practitioners in further

Pheromone evaporation has also the applications of ACO

advantage of avoiding the convergence to a

locally optimal solution. If there were no 2.2 Characteristics of ACO

evaporation at all, the paths chosen by the

first ants would tend to be excessively Stigmergy is a method of communication

attractive to the following ones. In that case, in systems in which the individual parts of

the exploration of the solution space would the system communicate with one another

be constrained. Thus, when one ant finds a by modifying their local environment. The

good path to a food source, other ants are two main characteristics of stigmergy that

more likely to follow that path, and positive differentiate it from other forms of

feedback eventually leaves all the ants communication are:

following a single path. Figure 1 describes (i) Stigmergy is an indirect, non-

this ant behaviour. symbolic form of communication

mediated by the environment:

1.3 Other Social Insects for insects exchange information by

Optimization modifying the environment; and

(ii) Stigmergic information is local: it

Examples of other optimisation systems can only be accessed by those

which can be found in nature include bird insects that visit the locus in which

flocking, animal herding, bacteria moulding it was released (or its immediate

and fish schooling, pedestrians, traffic. The neighbourhood)

beauty of the entire phenomenon lies in the

seemingly intelligent group behaviour that 2.3 The Double Bridge Experiment

emerges from multiple individual animals.

Deneubourg et al. thoroughly investigated

2. Ant Colony Optimization. the behaviour of ants. In an experiment

known as the “double bridge

2.1 The Theory of Ant Colonies experiment”( Figure 2) the nest of a

colony of Argentine ants was connected to

a food source by two bridges of equal

lengths. In such a setting, ants start to plays an important role: the ants choosing

explore the surroundings of the nest and by chance the short bridge are the first to

eventually reach the food source. Along their reach the nest. The short bridge, therefore,

paths, the ants deposit pheromone. Initially, receives pheromone earlier than the long

each ant randomly chooses one of the two one and this fact increases the probability

bridges. However, due to random that further ants select it rather than the

fluctuations, after some time, one of the two long one. A model of this observed

bridges presents a higher concentration of behaviour was developed.

pheromones than the other and , thus, attracts

more ants. This brings a further amount of 2.4 ACO Procedure - Pseudo Algorithm

pheromone on that bridge making it more

attractive with the result that after some time The ACO pseudo-algorithm is shown

the whole colony converges towards the use below. After initialization, the algorithm

of the same bridge. iterates over three phases: at each iteration,

This colony–level behaviour based on a number of solutions are constructed by

autocatalysis , that is , on the exploitation of the ants; these solutions are then improved

positive feedback , can be used by ants to through a local search (this step is

find the shortest path between a food source optional), and finally the pheromone is

and their nests. A variant of the “double updated.

bridge experiment”, in which one bridge is

significantly longer than the other was 1. (Initialization)

considered. In this case, the stochastic Set parameters, initialize pheromone

fluctuations in the initial choice of a bridge trails.

are much reduced and a second mechanism. Initialize τιψ, for each ι,ψ

2. (Construction of AntSolution)

For each ant k do

Repeat

Compute ηιψ for each ι,ψ.

Choose in probability the state to

move into

Append the chosen move to move

the kth ant’s set tabu.

Until ant k has completed its

solution.

[apply a local search(optional)]

3. (Pheromone Trail Update)

For each ant move ( ι,ψ) do

Compute ∆τιψ and update the trail

values

4. (Terminating condition)

If not (end_condition) go to step-2.

Figure 2: Experimental Setup for the

double bridge experiment (a) branches 3. Variants of the ACO Algorithm.

have equal lengths;(b) branches have

different lengths.

Different ant colony optimization algorithms algorithms can be useful for quickly

have been proposed .The original ACO finding high quality solution. Other

algorithm is known as Ant System and was popular applications are to dynamic

proposed in the early nineties. It’s main shortest path problems arising in

characteristic is that at each iteration, the telecommunication networks problems.

pheromone values are updated by all the ants The number of successful applications to

that have built a solution in the iteration academic problems has motivated people

itself. to adopt ACO for the solution of industrial

Since then a number of other ACO problems, proving that this computation of

algorithms, variants of the original Ant intelligence technique is also useful in real

System, were presented, of which the two world applications.

most successful algorithms were MAXMIN

and Ant Colony system (ACS). 4.1 Application to telecommunication

MAXMIN is an improvement over the networks

original AntSystem. Its characterizing

elements are that only the best ant updates ACO algorithms have shown to be a very

the pheromone trails and that the value of the effective approach for routing problems in

pheromone is bound. telecommunication networks where the

The most interesting contribution of ACS is properties of the system, such as the cost of

the introduction of a local pheromone update using links or the availability of the nodes,

in addition to the pheromone update vary over time. ACO algorithms were first

performed at the end of the construction applied to routing problems in circuit-

process. The local update done diversifies switched networks (such as telephone

the search performed by subsequent ants networks) and then in packet-switched

during an iteration: by decreasing the networks (such as local area networks or

pheromone concentration on the traversed the internet). A well known example is

edges, ants encourage subsequent ants to AntNet which has been extensively tested,

choose other edges an, hence, to produce in simulation, on different networks and

different solutions. This makes it less likely under different traffic patterns, proving to

that several ants produce identical solutions be highly adaptable and robust. A

during one iteration. comparison with state-of-the-art routing

algorithms has shown that, in most of the

4. Applications of ACO in NP-Hard considered situations, AntNet outperforms

Problems. its competitors.

In recent years, the interest of the scientific Ant-based algorithms have given rise to

community in ACO has risen sharply. In fact, several other routing algorithms, enhancing

several successful applications of ACO to a performance in a variety of wired network

wide range of different discrete optimization scenarios.

problems are now available. The large

majority of these applications are to NP- 4.2 Application to Industrial Problems

Hard problems; that is, to problems for

which the best known algorithms that The success of ACO on academic

guarantee to identify an optimal solution problems has raised the attention of a

have exponential time worst case number of companies that have started to

complexity. The use of such algorithms is sue ACO algorithms for real-world

often infeasible in practice, and ACO applications. They have applied ACO to a

number of scheduling problems such as a the following vertex is selected

continuous two-stage flow shop problem stochastically

with finite reservoirs. The problems modeled among the previously unvisited ones. In

included various real world constraints such particular, if j has not been previously

as setup times, capacity restrictions, resource visited, it can be selected with a probability

compatibilities and maintenance calendars. that is proportional to the pheromone

Some researchers have developed a set of associated with the edge (i,j). At the end of

tools for the solution of vehicle-routing the iteration, on the basis of the quality of

problems whose optimization algorithms are the solution constructed by the ants, the

based on ACO. Examples of companies who pheromone values are modified in order to

have successfully used ACO are EuroBios, bias ants in future iterations to construct

AntOptima, DYVOIL, AntRoute, Migros solutions similar to the best ones previously

(the main Swiss supermarket chain) and constructed. In Figure 3, ACO-TSP is

Barilla (the main Italian pasta maker). given.

Salesman Problem (TSP)

problem in discrete or combinatorial

optimization. It is a prominent illustration of

a class of problems in computational

complexity theory which are hard to solve.

The problem states that : Given a number of

cities and the costs of traveling from any city

to any other city, what is the cheapest round-

trip route that visits each city exactly once

and then returns to the starting city?

In ant colony optimization, the problem is Figure 3 :An ant in city i chooses the next

tackled by simulating a number of artificial city to visit via a stochastic mechanism: If j

ants moving on a graph that encodes the has not been previously visited, it can be

problem itself: each vertex represents a city selected with a probability that is

and each edge represents a connection proportional to the pheromone associated

between two cities. A variable called with edge (i.j).

pheromone is associated with each edge and

can be read and modified by ants. Ant colony Many of the tackled NP-Hard problems can

optimization is an iterative algorithm. At each be considered as falling into one of the

iteration , a number of artificial ants are following categories: routing problems as

considered. Each of them builds a solution by they arise for example in the distribution of

walking from vertex to vertex on the graph goods; assignment problems, where a set of

with the constraint of not visiting any vertex items (objects, activities etc.) has to be

that she has already visited in her walk. At assigned to a given number of

each step of the solution construction, an ant resources(location, agents etc.)subject to

selects the following vertex to be visited some constraints; scheduling problems ,

according to a stochastic mechanism that is which –in the widest sense- concerned with

biased by the pheromone: when in vertex i, the allocation of scare resources to tasks

over time; and subset problems , where a

solution to a problem is considered to be a

selection of a subset of available items. In

addition, ACO has been successfully applied

to other problems emerging in fields such as

machine learning and bioinformatics.

algorithms are as follows :

• The Positive Feedback in ACO

accounts for rapid discovery of good

solutions

• ACO employs Distributed

computation, which avoids premature

convergence.

• The greedy heuristic used in ACO

helps find an acceptable solution in

the early solution in the early stages

of the search process.

Some of the disadvantages in ACO

algorithms are:

• These algorithms have slower

convergence than other Heuristics.

• They performed poorly for TSP

problems larger than 75 cities.

• There is no centralized processor to

guide the Ant System towards good

solutions.

SOCIAL INSECTS AND REAL ANT of the object with a 50%–50% probability

COLONIES distribution. All ants move roughly at the

In a colony of social insects, such as ants, same speed and deposit pheromone in the

bees, wasps, and termites, each insect usually trail at roughly the same rate. Therefore, the

performs its own tasks independently from ants that (by chance) go around the obstacle

other members of the colony. However, the by the shortest path will reach the original

tasks performed by different insects are track faster than the others that have

related to each other in such a way that the followed longer paths to circumvent the

colony, as a whole, is capable of solving obstacle. As a result, pheromone

complex problems through cooperation [2]. accumulates faster in the shorter path

Important survival related problems such as around the obstacle. Since ants prefer to

selecting and picking up materials, and follow trails with larger amounts of

finding and storing food, which require pheromone, eventually all the ants

sophisticated planning, are solved by insect converge to the shorter path.

colonies without any kind of supervisor or

centralized controller. This collective III. ANT COLONY OPTIMIZATION

behavior which emerges from a group of An ACO algorithm is essentially a system

social insects has been called “swarm based on agents that simulate the natural

intelligence” [2]. behavior of ants, including mechanisms of

Here, we are interested in a particular cooperation and adaptation. In [10], the use

behavior of real ants namely, the fact that of this kind of system as a new

they are capable of finding the shortest path metaheuristic was proposed in order to

between a food source and the nest (adapting solve combinatorial optimization problems.

to changes in the environment) without the This new metaheuristic has been shown to

use of visual information [9]. This intriguing be both robust and versatile—in the sense

ability of almost-blind ants has been studied that it has been applied successfully to a

extensively by ethologists. They discovered range of different combinatorial

that, in order to exchange information about optimization problems [11].

which path should be followed, ants

communicate with one another by means of ACO algorithms are based on the

pheromone (a chemical substance) trails. As following ideas.

ants move, a certain amount of pheromone is 1) Each path followed by an ant is

dropped on the ground, marking the path associated with a candidate solution for a

with a trail of this substance. The more ants given problem.

follow a given trail, the more attractive this 2) When an ant follows a path, the amount

trail becomes to be followed by other ants. of pheromone deposited on that path is

This process can be described as a loop of proportional to the quality of the

positive feedback, in which the probability corresponding candidate solution for the

that an ant chooses a path is proportional to target problem.

the number of ants that have already passed 3) When an ant has to choose between two

by that path [9], [11], [23]. or more paths, the path(s) with a larger

When an established path between a food amount of pheromone have a greater

source and the ants’ nest is disturbed by the probability of being chosen by the ant. As a

presence of an object, ants soon try to go result, the ants eventually converge to a

around the obstacle. First, each ant can short path, hopefully the optimum or a

choose to go around to the left or to the right near-optimum solution for the target

problem, as explained before for the case of

natural ants. In essence, the design of an

ACO algorithm involves the specification of

[2]:

1) an appropriate representation of the

problem, which allows the ants to

incrementally construct/modify solutions

through the use of a probabilistic transition

rule, based on the amount of pheromone in

the trail and on a local problem-dependent

heuristic;

2) a method to enforce the construction of

valid solutions, i.e., solutions that are legal in

the real-world situation corresponding to the

problem definition;

3) a problem-dependent heuristic function (

) that measures the quality of items that can

be added to the current partial solution;

4) a rule for pheromone updating, which

specifies how to modify the pheromone trail (

);

5) a probabilistic transition rule based on the

value of the heuristic function () and on the

contents of the pheromone trail () that is used

to iteratively construct a solution.

Artificial ants have several characteristics

similar to real ants, namely:

1) artificial ants have a probabilistic

preference for paths with a larger amount of

pheromone;

2) shorter paths tend to have larger rates of

growth in their amount of pheromone;

3) the ants use an indirect communication

system based on

the amount of pheromone deposited on each

path.

[3] Official website of the Ant Colony

6. Conclusion Metaheuristic: www.aco-metaheuristic.org

Ant Colony Optimization has been and [4] Other Related links:

continues to be a fruitful paradigm for www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarm_intellig

designing effective combinatorial ence

optimization solution algorithms. After more

than ten years of studies, both its application

effectiveness and its theoretical groundings

have been demonstrated, making ACO one of

the most successful paradigm in the

metaheuristic area.

Fifteen years ago, when the first ACO

algorithm was introduced, taking inspiration

from ants for designing optimization

algorithms seemed a crazy idea. The many

perspective: what seemed a far-out idea is

now considered one of the most promising

approaches to the approximate solution of

difficult optimization problems.

This paper is a brief write-up of the ideas and

inspirations behind ACO. The effectiveness

of ACO is justified by the variety of

applications of ACO. This being an emerging

field of the Swarm Intelligence area, much

more exploration and experimentation can be

done in future.

7. References

Thomas Stiitzli, “Ant Colony Optimization:

Artificial Ants as a Computational

Intelligence Technique”, IEEE Transaction

on Evolutionary Computation, November

2006, pp. 28-36.

M.Pasteels, “The Self Organizing

Exploratory Pattern of the Argentine Ant”,

Journal of Insect Behaviour, Vol.3, p.159,

1990.

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