Distributed Biological Algorithms
Start date: May 1, 2015,
End date: Apr 30, 2020
This project proposes a new application for computational reasoning. More specifically, the purpose of this interdisciplinary project is to demonstrate the usefulness of an algorithmic perspective in studies of complex biological systems. We focus on the domain of collective behavior, and demonstrate the benefits of using techniques from the field of theoretical distributed computing in order to establish algorithmic insights regarding the behavior of biological ensembles. The project includes three related tasks, for which we have already obtained promising preliminary results. Each task contains a purely theoretical algorithmic component as well as one which integrates theoretical algorithmic studies with experiments. Most experiments are strategically designed by the PI based on computational insights, and are physically conducted by experimental biologists that have been carefully chosen by the PI. In turn, experimental outcomes will be theoretically analyzed via an algorithmic perspective. By this integration, we aim at deciphering how a biological individual (such as an ant) “thinks”, without having direct access to the neurological process within its brain, and how such limited individuals assemble into ensembles that appear to be far greater than the sum of their parts. The ultimate vision behind this project is to enable the formation of a new scientific field, called algorithmic biology, that bases biological studies on theoretical algorithmic insights.
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