The Ant Colony System algorithm is an example of an Ant Colony Optimization method from the field of Swarm Intelligence, Metaheuristics and Computational Intelligence. Ant Colony System is an extension to the Ant System algorithm and is related to other Ant Colony Optimization methods such as Elite Ant System, and Rank-based Ant System.


The Ant Colony System algorithm is inspired by the foraging behavior of ants, specifically the pheromone communication between ants regarding a good path between the colony and a food source in an environment. This mechanism is called stigmergy.


The objective of the strategy is to exploit historic and heuristic information to construct candidate solutions and fold the information learned from constructing solutions into the history. Solutions are constructed one discrete piece at a time in a probabilistic step-wise manner. The probability of selecting a component is determined by the heuristic contribution of the component to the overall cost of the solution and the quality of solutions from which the component has historically known to have been included. History is updated proportional to the quality of the best known solution and is decreased proportional to the usage if discrete solution components.