Emily  Zhang

Emily Zhang

Scholar Title

MIT EECS | Keel Foundation Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar

Research Title

Small Ants with Big Wisdom: Consensus in Collective Decision-Making Algorithms in Ant Colonies





Research Areas
  • Theory of Computer Systems

Nancy Ann Lynch


Ant colonies are a perfect candidate for studying distributed systems – they consist of many agents with limited power, a global goal, and no central control. Interestingly, a colony as a whole exhibits a high level of collective intelligence and is able to achieve complex global goals, such as relocating to new nests. In this project, we will model the ant house-hunting process as an algorithm that is both bio-plausible and tractable to rigorous analysis. We will then analyze how the distributed system is able to quickly reach consensus through local communications, especially given the high noise levels observed in nature. These investigations could lead to key insights regarding the efficiency of operations in many ad-hoc wireless engineering systems, such as robot swarms.


“I am participating in SuperUROP because I want to gain research experience in a field that I am interested in. I really enjoyed 6.854 and other algorithms classes that I took, and I am excited to apply my theoretical knowledge and mathematical background to a biologically inspired research project with real-world applications.”

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