Wasps, termites and waspmites: Distinguishing competence from performance in collective construction

Seth Bullock, Dan Ladley, Michael Kerby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


We introduce a distinction between algorithm performance and algorithm competence and argue that bio-inpsired computing should characterise the former rather than the latter. To exemplify this, we explore and extend a bio-inspired algorithm for collective construction influenced by paper wasp behaviour. Despite being provably general in its competence we demonstrate limitations on the algorithm's performance. We explain these limitations, and extend the algorithm to include pheromone-mediated behaviour typical of termites. The resulting hybrid "waspmite" algorithm shares the generality of the original wasp algorithm, but exhibits improved peroformance and scalability.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)267-290
Number of pages24
JournalArtificial Life
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • bio-inspired computing
  • swarm intelligence collective construction,
  • stigmergy
  • evolution

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