Insights from the swarm: understanding collective problem-solving using ants and slime mould

Nonlinear Science and Mathematical Physics 

Complex systems are those systems that are comprised of a large number of interacting units, such as neurons in a brain, and individual animals in fish schools and ant colonies. Each unit acts on its own, using only local information, and there is no centralised control of the collective. The thousands of tiny interactions between the individuals leads to sophisticated ‘emergent’ behaviour at the group level, such as solving mazes, making efficient trade-offs and building self-assembled, adaptive structures. This is often referred to as ‘swarm intelligence’, and offers an alternative approach to the hierarchical, top-down control used in most human-designed systems.

I will outline some of my past and future work in this field, using a combination of field work, lab studies and computational models to uncover how ant colonies and the slime mould Physarum polycephalum use simple behavioural rules to gain the benefits of swarm intelligence. For more information, check out my website:

Event Details


  • Date: 
    Friday, October 13, 2017 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

Howey N110

For More Information Contact

Prof. David Hu