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Word Count: 439
Real ants are capable of finding shortest path from a food source to the nest Beckers Deneubourg and Goss 1992 Goss Aron Deneubourg and Pasteels 1989 without using visual cues Hlldobler and Wilson 1990 Also they are capable of adapting to changes in the environment for example finding a new shortest path once the old one is no longer feasible due to a new obstacle Beckers Deneubourg and Goss 1992 Goss Aron Deneubourg and Pasteels 1989 Consider the following figure in which ants are moving on a straight line which connects a food source to the nest It is well-known that the main means used by ants to form and maintain the line is a pheromone trail Ants deposit a certain amount of pheromone while walking and each ant probabilistically prefers to follow a direction rich in pheromone rather than a poorer one This elementary behavior of real ants can be used to explain how they can find the shortest path which reconnects a broken line after the sudden appearance of an unexpected obstacle has interrupted the initial path see next figure In fact once the obstacle has appeared those ants which are just in front of the obstacle cannot continue to follow the pheromone trail and therefore they have to choose between turning right or left In this situation we can expect half the ants to choose to turn right and the other half to turn left The very same situation can be found on the other side of the obstacle see next figure It is interesting to note that those ants which choose by chance the shorter path around the obstacle will more rapidly reconstitute the interrupted pheromone trail compared to those which choose the longer path Hence the shorter path will receive a higher amount of pheromone in the time unit and this will in turn cause a higher number
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