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
|Contact: Megan McRainey|
Georgia Institute of Technology