Collective homeostasis and time-resolved models of self-organised task allocation

Bernd Meyer, Anja Weidenmuller, Rui Chen, Julian Garcia

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


    One of the main factors behind the amazing ecological success of social insects is their ability to flexibly allocate the colony s workforce to all the different tasks it has to address. Insights into the self-organised task allocation methods used for this have given rise to the design of an important class of bio-inspired algorithms for network control, industrial optimisation, and other applications. The most widely used class of models for self-organised task allocation, which also forms the core of these algorithms, are the so-called response threshold models. We revisit response threshold models with new experiments using temperature regulation in bumblebee colonies as the model system. We show that standard response threshold models do not fit our experiments and present a new, alternative behavioural model. This captures a fine-grained, time resolved picture of task engagement, which enables us to investigate task allocation with a different set of statistical methods (survival analysis). Using these we show that our model fits the experiment well and explains its salient aspects. We compare the effectiveness of the behaviour that our model describes with that of response threshold models and demonstrate that it can lead to more e cient task management when demands fluctuate. Our results have the potential to provide a basis for the design of new, more effcient task allocation algorithms for dynamic environments and to elucidate important biological questions, such as the functional role of inter-individual variation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication9th EAI International Conference on Bioinspired Information and Communications Technologies (BICT 2015)
    EditorsJunichi Suzuki, Tadashi Nakano, Henry Hess
    Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
    PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)9781631901003
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventEAI International Conference on Bioinspired Information and Communications Technologies 2015 - New York, United States of America
    Duration: 3 Dec 20155 Dec 2015
    Conference number: 9th


    ConferenceEAI International Conference on Bioinspired Information and Communications Technologies 2015
    Abbreviated titleBICT 2015
    Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
    CityNew York
    Other9th EAI International Conference on Bio-inspired Information and Communications Technologies (formerly BIONETICS)
    Internet address

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