Ant colonies for the travelling salesman problem

Biosystems. 1997;43(2):73-81. doi: 10.1016/s0303-2647(97)01708-5.


We describe an artificial ant colony capable of solving the travelling salesman problem (TSP). Ants of the artificial colony are able to generate successively shorter feasible tours by using information accumulated in the form of a pheromone trail deposited on the edges of the TSP graph. Computer simulations demonstrate that the artificial ant colony is capable of generating good solutions to both symmetric and asymmetric instances of the TSP. The method is an example, like simulated annealing, neural networks and evolutionary computation, of the successful use of a natural metaphor to design an optimization algorithm.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Ants / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Locomotion
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pheromones / physiology
  • Stochastic Processes


  • Pheromones