Title: An individual approach to modelling emergent structure in termite swarm systems

Authors: David Feltell, Li Bai, Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen

Addresses: School of Computer Science and IT, University of Nottingham, Jubilee Campus, Nottingham NG8 1BB, UK. ' School of Computer Science and IT, University of Nottingham, Jubilee Campus, Nottingham NG8 1BB, UK. ' Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, South Kensington campus, London SW7 2AZ, UK

Abstract: Social insects provide a unique example of emergence and self-organisation. Their ability to exploit environmental complexity to offset individual simplicity presents us with a novel and immensely powerful engineering methodology. In this work we present our 3D agent-based simulation model of the emergent construction behaviour of Macrotermes termites, focusing on construction of the queen|s royal chamber and protective trail galleries using available biological evidence. Previous models have been somewhat lacking in modelling individual behavioural responses and in including factors intrinsic to the termite building process. We show how simple response-threshold functions can be combined with pheromone templates and stigmergic mechanisms to mirror experimental work and provide an explanation for poorly understood termite behavioural patterns. We also demonstrate the low-level disorder inherent in such a system and explain how such effects can add a layer of stochasticity to facilitate the self organised building process.

Keywords: termites; complex systems; swarm intelligence; self-organisation; social insects; multi-agent systems; MAS; agent-based systems; simulation; termite building process; termite behaviour; behavioural patterns.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMIC.2008.018181

International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control, 2008 Vol.3 No.1, pp.29 - 40

Available online: 10 May 2008 *

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