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Bees swarm and slime flops, inspiring systems engineers

Known for his work on the "Honey Bee Algorithm," which tamed web traffic instabilities on servers by mimicking the behavior of bee colonies, systems researcher Craig Tovey has seen plenty of nature-inspired technological feats. According to Tovey, research into swarming bees demonstrates lasting truths. For example, the algorithms guiding these swarms evolved over millions of years, and could exist for millions more. Algorithms steering bee behavior make the insect swarms adjust to supply and demand fluxes similar to those that confront a web server. Tovey also explains that slime mold, a non-cellular organism related to amoebas, makes very efficient connections that adapt well to differing constellations in food dabs. Some researchers tested this phenomenon by placing food in locations corresponding to Japanese cities connected by rail lines. Eventually, the slime mold settled in a way that nearly matched the actual rail network.

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