Vincent Darley, a research scientist with BiosGroup (Santa Fe, NM) who also studies ants, says that "swarm intelligence" of ants makes sense for scheduling problems in manufacturing settings. Ants lay down a chemical called pheromone, creating a trail between food sources and their nests. The trails become the system of routing for the ants. Darley uses small pieces of software that travel through a network and deposit an artificial pheromone as they seek optimal routes through networks. Because the Internet uses packet switching—breaking down of e-mails and other data into small bundles taking different routes before reassembling at their destination—better routing is necessary, according to Darley. His approach relies on virtual ants that wander large databases, pick up pieces of information, and deposit them according to various criteria that he sets up. The result is a cluster of clients with common attributes—similar to the way ants collect seeds for their pantries. For more information, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, call (505) 992-6700, or send snail mail to: BiosGroup, 317 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501.
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