Bees' tiny brains beat computers, study finds

Sunday, October 24, 2010 - 16:00 in Mathematics & Economics

Bees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days, research has shownBees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days, research has shown.The insects learn to fly the shortest route between flowers discovered in random order, effectively solving the "travelling salesman problem" , said scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London.The conundrum involves finding the shortest route that allows a travelling salesman to call at all the locations he has to visit. Computers solve the problem by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the one that is shortest.Bees manage to reach the same solution using a brain the size of a grass seed.Dr Nigel Raine, from Royal Holloway's school of biological sciences, said: "Foraging bees solve travelling salesman problems every day. They visit flowers at multiple locations and, because bees use lots of energy to fly, they find a route which...

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