Topic: Systems/Scientific modeling

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Ant Colony Optimization Algorithms

Computer science Systems Systems/Scientific modeling

In computer science and operations research, the ant colony optimization algorithm (ACO) is a probabilistic technique for solving computational problems which can be reduced to finding good paths through graphs. Artificial Ants stand for multi-agent methods inspired by the behavior of real ants. The pheromone-based communication of biological ants is often the predominant paradigm used. Combinations of Artificial Ants and local search algorithms have become a method of choice for numerous optimization tasks involving some sort of graph, e.g., vehicle routing and internet routing. The burgeoning activity in this field has led to conferences dedicated solely to Artificial Ants, and to numerous commercial applications by specialized companies such as AntOptima.

As an example, Ant colony optimization is a class of optimization algorithms modeled on the actions of an ant colony. Artificial 'ants' (e.g. simulation agents) locate optimal solutions by moving through a parameter space representing all possible solutions. Real ants lay down pheromones directing each other to resources while exploring their environment. The simulated 'ants' similarly record their positions and the quality of their solutions, so that in later simulation iterations more ants locate better solutions. One variation on this approach is the bees algorithm, which is more analogous to the foraging patterns of the honey bee, another social insect.

This algorithm is a member of the ant colony algorithms family, in swarm intelligence methods, and it constitutes some metaheuristic optimizations. Initially proposed by Marco Dorigo in 1992 in his PhD thesis, the first algorithm was aiming to search for an optimal path in a graph, based on the behavior of ants seeking a path between their colony and a source of food. The original idea has since diversified to solve a wider class of numerical problems, and as a result, several problems have emerged, drawing on various aspects of the behavior of ants. From a broader perspective, ACO performs a model-based search and shares some similarities with estimation of distribution algorithms.

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Jackson structured programming

Computer science Systems Systems/Scientific modeling

Jackson structured programming (JSP) is a method for structured programming developed by British software consultant Michael A. Jackson and described in his 1975 book Principles of Program Design. The technique of JSP is to analyze the data structures of the files that a program must read as input and produce as output, and then produce a program design based on those data structures, so that the program control structure handles those data structures in a natural and intuitive way.

JSP describes structures (of both data and programs) using three basic structures – sequence, iteration, and selection (or alternatives). These structures are diagrammed as (in effect) a visual representation of a regular expression.

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