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The Travelling Monkey

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathLand)
Description: One of the classic problems of planning ahead concerns a traveling salesman who must visit customers in a number of cities scattered across the country and then return home. The problem is to find the shortest possible route visiting each city only once. It turns out that vervet monkeys can also solve the traveling salesman problem -- albeit to a limited extent. In the May 29 Nature, Audrey E. Cramer and C.R. Gallistel of the University of California at Los Angeles report that, rather than always heading for the nearest foodsupply, the monkeys apparently plan their next three visits to minimize distance and travel time.

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Algorithms, Graph Theory, Optimization, Animal Biology

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