Unhappy Truckers and Other Algorithmic Problems - What happens when the traveling salesman problem meets the real world at UPS and Yellow Freight.
Bees and a species of bird can solve the traveling salesman problem "It’s Saturday; you’ve got errands to run. Your spouse wants bread from the bakery, you need to pick up the dry cleaning, your kids need new shoes, and you’ve got a dentist appointment. None of this is any fun, so you might as well do it as quickly as possible by calculating the fastest and most efficient route that takes you to each stop... Menger and Whitney both discovered that the number of possible routes between stops increases exponentially with each additional destination. In a typical model, for instance, three stops yield six routes, while eight stops yield 40,320... By setting up five artificial flowers in a pentagon shape and tracking each bee’s path, researchers discovered that every bee optimized its route, visiting the highest-reward flowers in the shortest possible amount of time." [more inside]