While all that dancing may not sound like a model of efficiency, its actually optimal for the unpredictable nectar world the bees inhabit, Tovey said. The system allows the bees to seamlessly shift from one nectar source to a more promising nectar source based on up-to-the-minute conditions. All this without a clear leader or central command to slow the decision making process.
But the bees arent performing a computation or strategy, they ARE the computation, Tovey added.
Internet servers, on the other hand, are theoretically optimized for normal conditions, which are frequently challenged by fickle human nature. By assigning certain servers to a certain Web site, Internet hosts are establishing a system that works well under normal conditions and poorly under conditions that strain demand. When demand for one site swells, many servers sit idly by as the assigned servers reach capacity and begin shifting potential users to a lengthening queue that tries their patience and turns away potential customers.
Tovey and Nakrani set to work translating the bee strategy for these idle Internet servers. They developed a virtual dance floor for a network of servers. When one server receives a user request for a certain Web site, an internal advertisement (standing in a little less colorfully for the dance) is placed on the dance floor to attract any available servers. The ads duration depends on the demand on the site and how much revenue its users may generate. The longer an ad remains on the dance floor, the more power available servers devote to serving the Web site requests advertised.
|Contact: Megan McRainey|
Georgia Institute of Technology