Course Information
Further Explorations

GIS 203
Learning From Ants and Bees:
The Science of Biological Swarms

5 credits

Aug. 23 - Sept. 16, 2010
Mondays - Thursdays: 9:30-12:00 pm
JHN 022

Swarm Graphic


  • The Odegaard Writing and Research Center for Early Fall Start students will be in operation Monday through Thursday from 12:45-5:15 pm with the last sessions beginning at 4:30pm, in room 326 of Odegaard Undergraduate Library, starting August 23. The center will not be open weekends, or Labor Day. Students who feel that they could use some help writing college-level papers are particularly encouraged to visit the center. You should book online as drop-ins can be accomodated on a very limited basis. The staff will not write your papers for you, but they will help you get started and talk with you about such things as style, audience, and organization.

    Swarm intelligence is an innovative computational and behavioral metaphor for solving distributed problems that originally took its inspiration from the biological examples provided by social insects such as ants, termites, bees, and wasps and by swarming, flocking, herding, and shoaling phenomena in vertebrates. The abilities of such natural systems appear to transcend the abilities of the constituent individual agents.

    The problems social insects and swarms of vertebrates solve - for instance, discovering new food sources, dividing labor among nestmates, building sophisticated nests, reliably migrating over thousands of miles, coordinated maneuvering within narrow spaces, and, in general, robustly facing changes in the team composition and external challenges - have important counterparts in engineering and computer science.

    Our goals in this course will be to understand the underlying principles of collective behavior in natural systems by examining key biological concepts (e.g., self-organization, stigmergy, collective movements, foraging, trail-laying and following, and task allocation and division). We will also consider extensions and applications of these concepts to problems in engineering and computer science.

  • Last updated on August 22 16:02:34 PDT