Ant navigation simulator

We have developed a series of Java applets to demonstrate the approach of synthetic simulations in biology. Using this approach it is possible to explore how simple rules can lead to complex emerging behaviour.

The applets on this page focus on the communication of worker ants through pheromone deposits in the environment. There are 4 applets of increasing complexity. They can be started by clicking the corresponding screenshots.

Applet 0

This minimal applet is meant to allow the observation of the 4 elemental rules that individual ants follow to determine their behaviour. The only parameter that can be adjusted is the use of "substance X"

Applet 0
Minimal applet

Applet 1

The two applets provided here allow to explore the optimal strategy for the pheromone communication depending on the type of food the ants typically encounter. In one of the applet the food source is a large animal and for the purposes of this simulation unlimited. In the other case food sources are small and appear randomly whenever others have been depleted. Note that there is no known optimal solution to either.

Applet 1a
Many small food sources
Applet 1b
One large food source

Applet 2

This applet was designed to explore the mechanism by which ants make choices for optimal paths.

Applet 2
Optimal paths

Full Applet

This full applet allows many different choices for food amounts and placement as well as choices for obstacles. It was designed to explore further ideas according to the user preferences.

Full Applet
Full applet