Bees can solve the traveling salesman problem

Bees can solve the traveling salesman problem

Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London and Royal Holloway have discovered that bees learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they discover the flowers in a different order. This ‘Travelling Salesman Problem’ often takes supercomputers days to solve, but Bees are now the first animals proven to do it. Computer-controlled artificial flowers were used to track the bee’s path and found they quickly learned the shortest route. Since a bee’s brain is only the size of a pinhead, researchers are hoping to identify the neural circuitry required and use that understanding to construct their own systems that rival the computational power of existing machines

Fascinating. A humbling reminder that despite the fact we consider computers near godlike in their abilities – there are solutions even the brightest minds can’t duplicate with a Turning-based machine. Or even reproduce at all.

Has often made me wonder if some day we’ll have a quantum or other non-Turing ‘co-processor’ with our current machines that is based on an architecture more suited to solving these types of difficult problems.

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