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Ant Colony Optimisation

Bioinformatics project by
Rishabh Verma
What is Ant Colony Optimisation

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.
Artificial Ants stand for multi-agent methods inspired by the behavior of
real ants. The pheromone-based communication of biological ants is often
the predominant paradigm used.Combinations of Artificial Ants and local
search algorithms have become a method of choice for numerous
optimization tasks involving some sort of graph, e.g., vehicle routing and
internet routing. The burgeoning activity in this field has led to
conferences dedicated solely to Artificial Ants, and to numerous
commercial applications by specialized companies such as AntOptima.
Principle Behind ACO

In the natural world, ants of some species (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 instead to 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.
Principle Behind ACO (cont)

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. The influence
of pheromone evaporation in real ant systems is unclear, but it is very
important in artificial systems.

The overall result is that 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 many 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
Artificial Pheromone System

Pheromone-based communication is one of the most effective ways

of communication which is widely observed in nature. Pheromone is
used by social insects such as bees, ants and termites; both for
inter-agent and agent-swarm communications. Due to its feasibility,
artificial pheromones have been adopted in multi-robot and swarm
robotic systems. Pheromone-based communication was
implemented by different means such as chemical or physical (RFID
tags, light, sound) ways. However, those implementations were not
able to replicate all the aspects of pheromones as seen in nature.
Artificial Pheromone System (cont)

Using projected light was presented in is an experimental setup to

study on pheromone-based communication with micro autonomous
robots. Another study that proposed a novel pheromone
communication method, COSΦ, for a swarm robotic system based on
precise and fast visual localization. The system allows to simulate
virtually unlimited number of different pheromones and provides
the result of their interaction as a gray-scale image on a horizontal
LCD screen that the robots move on. In order to demonstrate the
pheromone communication method, Colias autonomous micro robot
was deployed as the swarm robotic platform.
Popular Variations of ACO
Here are some of the most popular variations of ACO algorithms.

Elitist ant system

The global best solution deposits pheromone on every iteration along with all the other ants.

Max-min ant system (MMAS)

Added maximum and minimum pheromone amounts [τmax,τmin]. Only global best or iteration best
tour deposited pheromone <MAZ>. All edges are initialized to τmin and reinitialized to τmax when
nearing stagnation.

Ant colony system

It has been presented above.

Rank-based ant system (ASrank)

All solutions are ranked according to their length. The amount of pheromone deposited is then
weighted for each solution, such that solutions with shorter paths deposit more pheromone than
the solutions with longer paths.
Continuous orthogonal ant colony (COAC)
The pheromone deposit mechanism of COAC is to enable ants to search for solutions
collaboratively and effectively. By using an orthogonal design method, ants in the feasible
domain can explore their chosen regions rapidly and efficiently, with enhanced global search
capability and accuracy.

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.

Recursive ant colony optimization

It is a recursive form of ant system which divides the whole search domain into several sub-
domains and solves the objective on these subdomains. The results from all the subdomains are
compared and the best few of them are promoted for the next level. The subdomains
corresponding to the selected results are further subdivided and the process is repeated until an
output of desired precision is obtained. This method has been tested on ill-posed geophysical
inversion problems and works well.
Role of ACO in Bioinformatics
Several parameters can affect the performance of pattern recognition
system among which feature extraction and representation of patterns can
be considered as some most important ones. Reduction of pattern
dimensionality via feature extraction and selection is one of the most
essential steps in data processing
Feature Selection (FS) is extensive and it spreads throughout many
fields,including document classification, data mining, object recognition,
biometrics,remote sensing and computer vision . Given a feature set of
size n, the FS problem is to find a minimal feature subset of size m ( m<n)
while retaining a suitably high accuracy in representing the original
ACO for Feature Selection

The feature selection task may be reformulated into an ACO-suitable

problem. ACO requires a problem to be represented as a graph. Here
nodes represent features, with the edges between them denoting the
choice of the next feature.
The main steps of proposed algorithm are as follows:
1) Generation of ants and pheromone initialization
• Determine the population of ants (m).
• Set the intensity of pheromone trial associated with any feature.
• Determine the maximum of allowed iterations (T )
2) Ant Foraging and Evaluation
• Any ant (ki, i =1: m) randomly is assigned to one feature and it
should visit all features and build solutions completely. In this step, the
evaluation criterion is Mean Square Error (MSE) of the classifier. If an
ant is not able to decrease the MSE of the classifier in two successive
steps, it will finish its work and exit.
3) Selection of the best ants
• In this step the importance of the selected subset of each ant is evaluated
through classifier performance. Then the subsets according to their MSE
are sorted and some of them are selected according to ASFS algorithm.
4) Check the stop criterion
• Exit, if the number of iterations is more than the maximum allowed
iteration, otherwise continue.
5) Pheromone updating
• For features which are selected in step 3 pheromone intensity are updated.
6) Generation of new ants
• In this step previous ants are removed and new ants are generated.
7) Go to 2 and continue.
Thank You