TMA02 for M366 was released on Friday, so this weekend I’ve been making a start on the assignment, and oddly enough I’ve been enjoying it a lot more than I expected. Some bits of Question 1 are a little hand-holdy (we get one mark just for successfully copying and pasting the abstract of a journal article into the solution document!), but I did enjoy reading the article the question was based on. Which is a bit frustrating since I can’t talk about it in any great detail, in case I accidentally give away too much about the answer to the TMA question!

I think I should be okay to publish the name of the article and the journal, though, since they’re given in the TMA question: it’s Garnier, Gautrais and Theraulaz’s ‘The biological principles of swarm intelligence’ in No 1, Vol 1 of Swarm Intelligence. The case studies about honeybees and Messor sanctus ants are fascinating, and I am particularly in awe of the ants!

A Messor ant, being awesome. Photo by <a href="">macropolous</a>, under a <a href="">Creative Commons license</a>.

A Messor ant, being awesome. Photo by macropolous, under a Creative Commons license.

I’ve also really enjoyed the question involving the “Rabbits Grass Weeds” model that comes with NetLogo, particularly the special modified version that the OU supplies, which includes mutated red rabbits (it was difficult to resist the urge to shout “Go forth, my scarlet minions!” every time I set the red rabbits going). I didn’t enjoy the NetLogo exercises in the previous units or TMA questions very much at all, but I found running and re-running the Rabbits Grass Weeds model with varying parameter values, and then comparing the stats on the rabbit/grass/weeds populations absolutely fascinating. I was fiddling with that model for hours, completely absorbed – which bodes well for the rest of the course!