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Details for Professor Nigel Franks

Personal details
Name Professor Nigel Franks
Job title Emeritus Professor
Department School of Biological Sciences University of Bristol
Contact details This expert can be contacted via the University of Bristol Public Relations Office.

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work+44 (0)117 331 8092
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Qualifications BSc, PhD(Leeds)
Professional details
Keywords ants
problem-solving
biological organization
ant colonies
collective intelligence
Areas of expertise My research is on collective problem-solving in ants.

Ant colonies embody all of the most important aspects of biological organization. In simple terms they are more than the sum of their parts and they are robust flexible systems that are capable of self repair.

Our recent studies have begun to demonstrate the algorithmic basis of the self organization of ant colonies. Our focus is on the simple rules of interaction among worker ants that generate complexity and sophistication at the level of the colony. We have developed mathematical models that show how the interaction of simple rules at the microscopic level (individual workers) can generate complexity at the macroscopic level (the colony).

Our research into the collective intelligence of ant colonies has been supported not just by biological funding sources but those from both the academic and industrial computer science communities.