ATLANTA (November 16, 2007) -- Honeybees somehow manage to efficiently collect a lot of nectar with limited resources and no central command after all, the queen bee is too busy laying eggs to oversee something as mundane as where the best nectar can be found on any given morning. According to new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the swarm intelligence of these amazingly organized bees can also be used to improve the efficiency of Internet servers faced with similar challenges.
A bee dance-inspired communications system developed by Georgia Tech helps Internet servers that would normally be devoted solely to one task move between tasks as needed, reducing the chances that a Web site could be overwhelmed with requests and lock out potential users and customers. Compared with the way server banks are commonly run, the honeybee method typically improves service by 4 percent to 25 percent in tests based on real Internet traffic. The research was published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.
After studying the efficiency of honeybees, Craig Tovey, a professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, realized through conversations with Sunil Nakrani, a computer science colleague visiting from the University of Oxford, that bees and servers had strikingly similar barriers to efficiency.
I studied bees for years, waiting for the right application, Tovey said. When you work with biomimetics (the study of how biological principles can be applied to design and engineering), you have to look for a close analogy between two systems never a superficial one. And this definitely fit the bill.
The more Tovey and Nakrani discussed bees and servers, the surer they became that somehow the bees strategies for allocating limited resources in an unpredictable and constantly changing environment could be applied to Internet servers.
Honeybees have a limited number
|Contact: Megan McRainey|
Georgia Institute of Technology