Detecting danger: The dendritic cell algorithm

Julie Greensmith, Uwe Aickelin, Steve Cayzer

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingOther chapter contribution

41 Citations (SciVal)


The Dendritic Cell Algorithm (DCA) is inspired by the function of the dendritic cells of the human immune system. In nature, dendritic cells are the intrusion detection agents of the human body, policing the tissue and organs for potential invaders in the form of pathogens. In this research, and abstract model of DC behaviour is developed and subsequently used to form an algorithm, the DCA. The abstraction process was facilitated through close collaboration with laboratory- based immunologists, who performed bespoke experiments, the results of which are used as an integral part of this algorithm. The DCA is a population based algorithm, with each agent in the system represented as an 'artificial DC'. Each DC has the ability to combine multiple data streams and can add context to data suspected as anomalous. In this chapter the abstraction process and details of the resultant algorithm are given. The algorithm is applied to numerous intrusion detection problems in computer security including the detection of port scans and botnets, where it has produced impressive results with relatively low rates of false positives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRobust Intelligent Systems
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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