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Ants for Load Balancing in Telecommunications Networks

Schoonderwoerd, Ruud; Holland, Owen; Bruten, Janet; Rothkrantz, Leon

HPL-96-35

Keyword(s): artificial life; collective behaviour; telecoms call- routing


Abstract: This paper describes a novel method of achieving load balancing in telecommunications networks. A simulated network models a typical distribution of calls between arbitrary nodes; nodes carrying an excess of traffic can become congested, causing calls to be lost. In addition to calls, the network also supports a population of simple mobile agents with behaviours modelled on the trail laying abilities of ants. The ants move across the network between arbitrary pairs of nodes, selecting the path at each intermediate node according the distribution of simulated pheromones at each node. As they move they deposit simulated pheromones as a function of their distance from their source node, and the congestion encountered on their journey. Calls between nodes are routed as a function of the pheromone distributions at each intermediate node. The performance of the network is measured by the proportion of calls that are lost. The results of using the ant-based control (ABC) are compared with those achieved by using fixed shortest-path routes, and also by using an alternative algorithmically-based type of mobile agent previously proposed for use in network management. The ABC system is shown to drop fewer calls than the other methods, while exhibiting many attractive features of distributed control.

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