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Artificial Life

Summer 2012, Vol. 18, No. 3, Pages 267-290
(doi: 10.1162/artl_a_00065)
© 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Wasps, Termites, and Waspmites: Distinguishing Competence from Performance in Collective Construction
Article PDF (431.49 KB)

We introduce a distinction between algorithm performance and algorithm competence and argue that bio-inspired computing should characterize the former rather than the latter. To exemplify this, we explore and extend a bio-inspired algorithm for collective construction influenced by paper wasp behavior. Despite its being provably general in its competence, we demonstrate limitations on the algorithm's performance. We explain these limitations, and extend the algorithm to include pheromone-mediated behavior typical of termites. The resulting hybrid waspmite algorithm shares the generality of the original wasp algorithm, but exhibits improved performance and scalability.