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Bee strategy helps servers run more sweetly
Date:11/16/2007

of workers at any given time to fly out to flowers, collect nectar, return to the hive and repeat until the nectar source is depleted. Sometimes, theres an abundance of nectar to be collected; at other times nectar is scarce. The bees environment is constantly changing some flower patches occasionally yield much better nectar than others, the seasons shift and rainy days make nectar collection difficult. So how do the bees manage to keep a steady flow of nectar coming into the hive"

Internet servers, which provide the computing power necessary to run Web sites, typically have a set number of servers devoted to a certain Web site or client. When users access a Web site, the servers provide computing power until all the requests to access and use the site have been fulfilled. Sometimes there are a lot of requests to access a site (for instance, a clothing companys retail site after a particularly effective television ad during a popular sporting event) and sometimes there are very few. Predicting demand for Web sites, including whether a user will access a video clip or initiate a purchase, is extremely difficult in a fickle Internet landscape, and servers are frequently overloaded and later become completely inactive at random.

Bees tackle their resource allocation problem (i.e. a limited number of bees and unpredictable demand on their time and desired location) with a seamless system driven by dances. Heres how it works: The scout bees leave the hive in search of nectar. Once theyve found a promising spot, they return to the hive dance floor and perform a dance. The direction of the dance tells the waiting forager bees which direction to fly, the number of waggle turns conveys the distance to the flower patch; and the length conveys the sweetness of the nectar.

The forager bees then dance behind the scouts until they learn the right steps (and the particulars about the nectar), forming a bobbing conga line of sorts. Then they fly out to
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Contact: Megan McRainey
megan.mcrainey@icpa.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Georgia Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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