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ACO, Ant Colony

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Theresa Meggie

Barker von Haartman

IE 516 Spring 2005

Overview

ACO Concept

Ants (blind) navigate from nest to food

source

Shortest path is discovered via pheromone

trails

each ant moves at random

pheromone is deposited on path

ants detect lead ants path, inclined to follow

more pheromone on path increases probability of

path being followed

ACO System

Virtual trail accumulated on path segments

Starting node selected at random

Path selected at random

based on amount of trail present on possible

paths from starting node

higher probability for paths with more trail

Ant reaches next node, selects next path

Continues until reaches starting node

Finished tour is a solution

ACO System, cont.

A completed tour is analyzed for optimality

Trail amount adjusted to favor better

solutions

better solutions receive more trail

worse solutions receive less trail

higher probability of ant selecting path that is

part of a better-performing tour

New cycle is performed

Repeated until most ants select the same tour

on every cycle (convergence to solution)

ACO System, cont.

Often applied to TSP (Travelling Salesman

Problem): shortest path between n nodes

Algorithm in Pseudocode:

Initialize Trail

Do While (Stopping Criteria Not Satisfied) Cycle Loop

Do Until (Each Ant Completes a Tour) Tour Loop

Local Trail Update

End Do

Analyze Tours

Global Trail Update

End Do

Background

Discrete optimization problems difficult

to solve

Soft computing techniques developed

in past ten years:

Genetic algorithms (GAs)

based on natural selection and genetics

Ant Colony Optimization (ACO)

modeling ant colony behavior

Background, cont.

Developed by Marco Dorigo (Milan,

Italy), and others in early 1990s

Some common applications:

Quadratic assignment problems

Scheduling problems

Dynamic routing problems in networks

Theoretical analysis difficult

algorithm is based on a series of random decisions

(by artificial ants)

probability of decisions changes on each iteration

Implementation

Ant Algorithms

Ant Algorithms

Implementation

Can be used for both Static and

Dynamic Combinatorial optimization

problems

Convergence is guaranteed, although the

speed is unknown

Value

Solution

The Algorithm

Ant Colony Algorithms are typically use

to solve minimum cost problems.

We may usually have N nodes and A

undirected arcs

There are two working modes for the

ants: either forwards or backwards.

Pheromones are only deposited in

backward mode.

The Algorithm

The ants memory allows them to retrace

the path it has followed while searching

for the destination node

Before moving backward on their

memorized path, they eliminate any

loops from it. While moving backwards,

the ants leave pheromones on the arcs

they traversed.

The Algorithm

The ants evaluate the cost of the paths

they have traversed.

The shorter paths will receive a greater

deposit of pheromones. An evaporation

rule will be tied with the pheromones,

which will reduce the chance for poor

quality solutions.

The Algorithm

At the beginning of the search process,

a constant amount of pheromone is

assigned to all arcs. When located at a

node i an ant k uses the pheromone

trail to compute the probability of

choosing j as the next node:

where is the neighborhood of ant k

when in node i.

0

k

i

ij k

i

k

il

ij l N

k

i

if j N

p

if j N

o

o

t

t

e

k

i

N

The Algorithm

When the arc (i,j) is traversed , the

pheromone value changes as follows:

By using this rule, the probability

increases that forthcoming ants will use

this arc.

k

ij ij

t t t +A

The Algorithm

After each ant k has moved to the next

node, the pheromones evaporate by the

following equation to all the arcs:

where is a parameter. An

iteration is a completer cycle involving

ants movement, pheromone evaporation,

and pheromone deposit.

(1 ) , ( , )

ij ij

p i j A t t e

(0,1] pe

Steps for Solving a Problem

by ACO

1. Represent the problem in the form of sets of

components and transitions, or by a set of weighted

graphs, on which ants can build solutions

2. Define the meaning of the pheromone trails

3. Define the heuristic preference for the ant while

constructing a solution

4. If possible implement a efficient local search

algorithm for the problem to be solved.

5. Choose a specific ACO algorithm and apply to

problem being solved

6. Tune the parameter of the ACO algorithm.

Applications

Efficiently Solves NP hard Problems

Routing

TSP (Traveling Salesman Problem)

Vehicle Routing

Sequential Ordering

Assignment

QAP (Quadratic Assignment Problem)

Graph Coloring

Generalized Assignment

Frequency Assignment

University Course Time Scheduling

4

3

5

2

1

Applications

Scheduling

Job Shop

Open Shop

Flow Shop

Total tardiness (weighted/non-weighted)

Project Scheduling

Group Shop

Subset

Multi-Knapsack

Max Independent Set

Redundancy Allocation

Set Covering

Weight Constrained Graph Tree partition

Arc-weighted L cardinality tree

Maximum Clique

Applications

Other

Shortest Common Sequence

Constraint Satisfaction

2D-HP protein folding

Bin Packing

Machine Learning

Classification Rules

Bayesian networks

Fuzzy systems

Network Routing

Connection oriented network routing

Connection network routing

Optical network routing

Advantages and

Disadvantages

Advantages and Disadvantages

For TSPs (Traveling Salesman Problem), relatively efficient

for a small number of nodes, TSPs can be solved by

exhaustive search

for a large number of nodes, TSPs are very computationally

difficult to solve (NP-hard) exponential time to

convergence

Performs better against other global optimization techniques

for TSP (neural net, genetic algorithms, simulated annealing)

Compared to GAs (Genetic Algorithms):

retains memory of entire colony instead of previous

generation only

less affected by poor initial solutions (due to combination of

random path selection and colony memory)

Advantages and Disadvantages,

cont.

Can be used in dynamic applications (adapts to

changes such as new distances, etc.)

Has been applied to a wide variety of

applications

As with GAs, good choice for constrained

discrete problems (not a gradient-based

algorithm)

Advantages and Disadvantages,

cont.

Theoretical analysis is difficult:

Due to sequences of random decisions (not

independent)

Probability distribution changes by

iteration

Research is experimental rather than

theoretical

Convergence is guaranteed, but time to

convergence uncertain

Advantages and Disadvantages,

cont.

Tradeoffs in evaluating convergence:

In NP-hard problems, need high-quality solutions quickly

focus is on quality of solutions

In dynamic network routing problems, need solutions for

changing conditions focus is on effective evaluation of

alternative paths

Coding is somewhat complicated, not straightforward

Pheromone trail additions/deletions, global updates and

local updates

Large number of different ACO algorithms to exploit

different problem characteristics

Sources

Dorigo, Marco and Sttzle, Thomas. (2004) Ant Colony

Optimization, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Dorigo, Marco, Gambardella, Luca M., Middendorf, Martin.

(2002) Guest Editorial, IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary

Computation, 6(4): 317-320.

Thompson, Jonathan, Ant Colony Optimization.

http://www.orsoc.org.uk/region/regional/swords/swords.ppt,

accessed April 24, 2005.

Camp, Charles V., Bichon, Barron, J. and Stovall, Scott P. (2005)

Design of Steel Frames Using Ant Colony Optimization, Journal

of Structural Engineeering, 131 (3):369-379.

Fjalldal, Johann Bragi, An Introduction to Ant Colony

Algorithms.

http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/research/nlp/gazdar/teach

/atc/1999/web/johannf/ants.html, accessed April 24, 2005.

Questions?

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