Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Bee Strategy Helps Servers Run More Sweetly

Computer version of bee dance directs server power
Honeybees somehow manage to efficiently collect a lot of nectar with limited resources and no central command — after all, the queen bee is too busy laying eggs to oversee something as mundane as where the best nectar can be found on any given morning. According to new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the swarm intelligence of these amazingly organized bees can also be used to improve the efficiency of Internet servers faced with similar challenges.

A bee dance-inspired communications system developed by Georgia Tech helps Internet servers that would normally be devoted solely to one task move between tasks as needed, reducing the chances that a Web site could be overwhelmed with requests and lock out potential users and customers. Compared with the way server banks are commonly run, the honeybee method typically improves service by 4 percent to 25 percent in tests based on real Internet traffic. The research was published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

After studying the efficiency of honeybees, Craig Tovey, a professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, realized through conversations with Sunil Nakrani, a computer science colleague visiting from the University of Oxford, that bees and servers had strikingly similar barriers to efficiency.

“I studied bees for years, waiting for the right application,” Tovey said. “When you work with biomimetics (the study of how biological principles can be applied to design and engineering), you have to look for a close analogy between two systems — never a superficial one. And this definitely fit the bill.”

... more about:
»Access »Efficiency »Source »Tovey »certain »hive »limited »nectar

The more Tovey and Nakrani discussed bees and servers, the surer they became that somehow the bees’ strategies for allocating limited resources in an unpredictable and constantly changing environment could be applied to Internet servers.

Honeybees have a limited number of workers at any given time to fly out to flowers, collect nectar, return to the hive and repeat until the nectar source is depleted. Sometimes, there’s an abundance of nectar to be collected; at other times nectar is scarce. The bees’ environment is constantly changing — some flower patches occasionally yield much better nectar than others, the seasons shift and rainy days make nectar collection difficult. So how do the bees manage to keep a steady flow of nectar coming into the hive?

Internet servers, which provide the computing power necessary to run Web sites, typically have a set number of servers devoted to a certain Web site or client. When users access a Web site, the servers provide computing power until all the requests to access and use the site have been fulfilled. Sometimes there are a lot of requests to access a site (for instance, a clothing company’s retail site after a particularly effective television ad during a popular sporting event) and sometimes there are very few. Predicting demand for Web sites, including whether a user will access a video clip or initiate a purchase, is extremely difficult in a fickle Internet landscape, and servers are frequently overloaded and later become completely inactive at random.

Bees tackle their resource allocation problem (i.e. a limited number of bees and unpredictable demand on their time and desired location) with a seamless system driven by “dances.” Here’s how it works: The scout bees leave the hive in search of nectar. Once they’ve found a promising spot, they return to the hive “dance floor” and perform a dance. The direction of the dance tells the waiting forager bees which direction to fly, the number of waggle turns conveys the distance to the flower patch; and the length conveys the sweetness of the nectar.

The forager bees then dance behind the scouts until they learn the right steps (and the particulars about the nectar), forming a bobbing conga line of sorts. Then they fly out to collect the nectar detailed in the dance. As long as there’s still nectar to be found, the bees that return continue the dance. Other forager bees continue to fly toward the source until the dancing slowly tapers off or a new bee returns with a more appealing dance routine (Hey, the nectar over here is even better!).

While all that dancing may not sound like a model of efficiency, it’s actually optimal for the unpredictable nectar world the bees inhabit, Tovey said. The system allows the bees to seamlessly shift from one nectar source to a more promising nectar source based on up-to-the-minute conditions. All this without a clear leader or central command to slow the decision making process.

“But the bees aren’t performing a computation or strategy, they ARE the computation,” Tovey added.

Internet servers, on the other hand, are theoretically optimized for “normal” conditions, which are frequently challenged by fickle human nature. By assigning certain servers to a certain Web site, Internet hosts are establishing a system that works well under normal conditions and poorly under conditions that strain demand. When demand for one site swells, many servers sit idly by as the assigned servers reach capacity and begin shifting potential users to a lengthening queue that tries their patience and turns away potential customers.

Tovey and Nakrani set to work translating the bee strategy for these idle Internet servers. They developed a virtual “dance floor” for a network of servers. When one server receives a user request for a certain Web site, an internal advertisement (standing in a little less colorfully for the dance) is placed on the dance floor to attract any available servers. The ad’s duration depends on the demand on the site and how much revenue its users may generate. The longer an ad remains on the dance floor, the more power available servers devote to serving the Web site requests advertised.

Megan McRainey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Access Efficiency Source Tovey certain hive limited nectar

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>