A stochastic approach to shortcut bridging in programmable matter

Marta Andrés Arroyo, Sarah Cannon, Joshua J. Daymude, Dana Randall, Andrea Richa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


In a self-organizing particle system, an abstraction of programmable matter, simple computational elements called particles with limited memory and communication self-organize to solve system-wide problems of movement, coordination, and configuration. In this paper, we consider stochastic, distributed, local, asynchronous algorithms for “shortcut bridging,” in which particles self-assemble bridges over gaps that simultaneously balance minimizing the length and cost of the bridge. Army ants of the genus Eticon have been observed exhibiting a similar behavior in their foraging trails, dynamically adjusting their bridges to satisfy an efficiency tradeoff using local interactions [1]. Using techniques from Markov chain analysis, we rigorously analyze our algorithm, show it achieves a near-optimal balance between the competing factors of path length and bridge cost, and prove that it exhibits a dependence on the angle of the gap being “shortcut” similar to that of the ant bridges. We also present simulation results that qualitatively compare our algorithm with the army ant bridging behavior. The proposed algorithm demonstrates the robustness of the stochastic approach to algorithms for programmable matter, as it is a surprisingly simple generalization of a stochastic algorithm for compression [2].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDNA Computing and Molecular Programming - 23rd International Conference, DNA 23, Proceedings
EditorsRobert Brijder, Lulu Qian
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9783319667980
StatePublished - 2017
Event23rd International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming, DNA 2017 - Austin, United States
Duration: Sep 24 2017Sep 28 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10467 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other23rd International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming, DNA 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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