Stochastic Diffusion Search—What?

Found this while helping my 4th grader do some research on marine life, phytoplankton, to be specific. We’ve all heard of stochastic screening in printing, but it turns out phytoplankton practice ‘swarm intelligence’ which can be measured using a ‘stochastic diffusion search’. So what does it mean?

Stochastic diffusion search (SDS) is an agent-based probabilistic global search and optimization technique best suited to problems where the objective function can be decomposed into multiple independent partial-functions. Each agent maintains a hypothesis which is iteratively tested by evaluating a randomly selected partial objective function parameterised by the agent’s current hypothesis. In the standard version of SDS such partial function evaluations are binary, resulting in each agent becoming active or inactive. Information on hypotheses is diffused across the population via inter-agent communication. Unlike the stigmergic communication used in ACO, in SDS agents communicate hypotheses via a one-to-one communication strategy analogous to the tandem running procedure observed in Leptothorax acervorum. A positive feedback mechanism ensures that, over time, a population of agents stabilise around the global-best solution. SDS is both an efficient and robust global search and optimisation algorithm, which has been extensively mathematically described.Recent work has involved merging the global search properties of SDS with other swarm intelligence algorithms.

Really? I guess I don’t read enough scientific journals…