The multiple pheromone Ant clustering algorithm

  • Jan Chircop

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Ant Colony Optimisation algorithms mimic the way ants use pheromones for marking paths to important locations. Pheromone traces are followed and reinforced by other ants, but also evaporate over time. As a consequence, optimal paths attract more pheromone, whilst the less useful paths fade away. In the Multiple Pheromone Ant Clustering Algorithm (MPACA), ants detect features of objects represented as nodes within graph space. Each node has one or more ants assigned to each feature. Ants attempt to locate nodes with matching feature values, depositing pheromone traces on the way. This use of multiple pheromone values is a key innovation.
    Ants record other ant encounters, keeping a record of the features and colony membership of ants. The recorded values determine when ants should combine their features to look for conjunctions and whether they should merge into colonies. This ability to detect and deposit pheromone representative of feature combinations, and the resulting colony formation, renders the algorithm a powerful clustering tool.
    The MPACA operates as follows: (i) initially each node has ants assigned to each feature; (ii) ants roam the graph space searching for nodes with matching features; (iii) when departing matching nodes, ants deposit pheromones to inform other ants that the path goes to a node with the associated feature values; (iv) ant feature encounters are counted each time an ant arrives at a node; (v) if the feature encounters exceed a threshold value, feature combination occurs; (vi) a similar mechanism is used for colony merging.
    The model varies from traditional ACO in that: (i) a modified pheromone-driven movement mechanism is used; (ii) ants learn feature combinations and deposit multiple pheromone scents accordingly; (iii) ants merge into colonies, the basis of cluster formation.
    The MPACA is evaluated over synthetic and real-world datasets and its performance compares favourably with alternative approaches.
    Date of Award10 Oct 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorChristopher Buckingham (Supervisor)


    • pheromone
    • ant
    • clustering algorithm

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