# What are the applications of ant colony optimization algorithms?

I'm interested in ant colony optimization algorithms and bee algorithms,but I'm confused what are the applications of these algorithms

Can you suggest me some examples of applications can I work on?

• Ant colony algorithms are used for path searching and routing if I'm not mistaken Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:12

The first ant colony optimisation algorithm was introduced by Marco Dorigo in the report Positive Feedback as a Search Strategy (1991) and his PhD thesis Optimization, Learning and Natural Algorithms (1992). He's still one of the leading figures in the field of swarm intelligence (having also written or co-written several papers and books). Another important person that contributed to ACO algorithms is Luca Gambardella (co-director of IDSIA).

There are several ACO algorithms. They are all based on the way real ants behave, that is, by leaving a substance called "pheromone" on the ground in order to communicate. More specifically, the amount of pheromone is associated with value (e.g. food): more pheromone means more value. (It should now be clear the reason behind the queues real ants form).

A list of ACO algorithms can be found at http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~mdorigo/ACO/publications.html. For reproducibility, here's a (non-exhaustive) list:

• Ant System
• Elitist Ant System
• Ant-Q
• Ant Colony System
• Max-Min Ant System
• Rank-based Ant System
• ANTS
• Hyper Cube - ACO

ACO algorithms have been applied to combinatorial and NP-complete (e.g. the travelling salesman problem) problems. ACO algorithms are thus a collection of meta-heuristic and probabilistic algorithms (in the same family of simulated annealing) to tackle often considered intractable problems. The related Wikipedia article contains a more exhaustive section dedicated to the applications of these algorithms. ACO algorithms are often combined with local search algorithms (like the 2-opt or 3-opt).

I would suggest you to start with the travelling salesman problem, which was the first application of these algorithms. You can have a look at the reference implementations at http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~mdorigo/ACO/aco-code/public-software.html, where you can also find software to solve specific tasks (not just the TSP, such as maximum clique problems).

• that's very useful, thanks, but I'm looking for a new topic to apply this algorithm, any ideas ? Commented May 27, 2019 at 20:04
• @HamzaDabjan Maybe you could look at some NP-complete problem that people have not yet tackled using ACO. See e.g. this list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NP-completeness.
– nbro
Commented May 27, 2019 at 20:32