Stigmergy

Stigmergy is a form of self-organization that occurs when parts of a system communicate by modifying their environment. Many examples of stigmergy occur in the organization of eusocial insect colonies. For example, in ant colonies, objects such as food, larvae, and corpses are often stored in discrete larders, nurseries, and cemeteries. Models show that this civic order can emerge through interactions between the ants and their environment. In the model, ants pick up objects at random, and may drop them when they encounter similar objects. Over time, this process creates piles of similar objects. Positive feedback causes larger piles to grow at the expense of smaller ones (Figure 3).

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