Traffic optimization in railroad networks using an algorithm mimicking an amoeba-like organism, Physarum plasmodium

Shin Watanabe*, Atsushi Tero, Atsuko Takamatsu, Toshiyuki Nakagaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Traffic optimization of railroad networks was considered using an algorithm that was biologically inspired by an amoeba-like organism, plasmodium of the true slime mold, Physarum polycephalum. The organism developed a transportation network consisting of a tubular structure to transport protoplasm. It was reported that plasmodium can find the shortest path interconnecting multiple food sites during an adaptation process (Nakagaki et al., 2001. Biophys. Chem. 92, 47-52). By mimicking the adaptation process a path finding algorithm was developed by Tero et al. (2007). In this paper, the algorithm is newly modified for applications of traffic distribution optimization in transportation networks of infrastructure such as railroads under the constraint that the network topology is given. Application of the algorithm to a railroad in metropolitan Tokyo, Japan is demonstrated. The results are evaluated using three performance functions related to cost, traveling efficiency, and network weakness. The traffic distribution suggests that the modified Physarum algorithm balances the performances under a certain parameter range, indicating a biological process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Sept


  • Optimization
  • Physarum polycephalum
  • Transportation network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Applied Mathematics


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