Frog Calls Inspire Algorithm for Wireless Networks

By Chelsea Whyte on July 17, 2012 9:14 PM EDT

japanese tree frog
The mating calls of the Japanese tree frogs may hold the key to efficient wireless networks. (Photo: Tanaka Juuyoh)

Mating is a precise science for Japanese tree frogs. Males of the species have learned to time their calls so they don't overlap with others, which lets females distinguish between two calls, and then locate a suitor.

The 'desynchronization' of the mating calls of male tree frogs inspired a team of researchers at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia studying 'swarm intelligence' - a branch of artificial intelligence that aims to design intelligent systems based on the behavior of animal societies such as ant colonies, flocks of birds or shoals of fish - to apply this idea to developing efficient wireless networks.

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In a move to solve what is known as graph coloring, a problem of assigning colors to nodes in a graph, the scientists are using the desychronization behavior of the frogs to create a process that can assign different colors to network nodes, reports Ubergizmo.

"Since there is no system of central control organizing this "desynchronization", the mechanism may be considered as an example of natural self-organization," explains Christian Blum. With the help of his colleague Hugo Hernández, such behavior provided inspiration for "solving the so-called 'graph coloring problem' in an even and distributed way."

Graph coloring is a way of labelling nodes on a tree or graph so that no two adjacent nodes are the same color. The theory behind graph coloring makes up the popular number Sudoku, in which a player tries to fill in boxes of a grid with the numerals 1 through 9 without repeating a number in the same line or box.

There are many practical applications of graph coloring, including WiFi connections.

"This type of graph coloring is the formalisation of a problem that arises in many areas of the real world, such as the optimisation of modern wireless networks with no predetermined structure using techniques for reducing losses in information packages and energy efficiency improvement," Blum said. 

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