Swarm intelligence (SI) is artificial intelligence based on the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems. The expression was introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang in 1989, in the context of cellular robotic systems.
SI systems are typically made up of a population of simple agents interacting locally with one another and with their environment. Although there is no centralized control structure dictating how individual agents should behave, local interactions between such agents lead to the emergence of global behavior. Natural examples of SI include ant colonies, bird flocking, animal herding, bacterial growth, fish schooling and collaborative blogging.
The application of swarm principles to robots is called swarm robotics, while ‘swarm intelligence’ refers to the more general set of algorithms.