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The predictability of consumer visitation patterns

We consider hundreds of thousands of individual economic transactions to ask: how predictable are consumers in their merchant visitation patterns? Our results suggest that, in the long-run, much of our seemingly elective activity is actually highly predictable. Notwithstanding a wide range of individual preferences, shoppers share regularities in how they visit merchant locations over time. Yet while aggregate behavior is largely predictable, the interleaving of shopping events introduces important stochastic elements at short time scales. These short- and long-scale patterns suggest a theoretical upper bound on predictability, and describe the accuracy of a Markov model in predicting a person's next location. We incorporate population-level transition probabilities in the predictive models, and find that in many cases these improve accuracy. While our results point to the elusiveness of precise predictions about where a person will go next, they suggest the existence, at large time-scales, of regularities across the population.

 

The predictability of consumer visitation patterns

Coco Krumme, Alejandro Llorente, Manuel Cebrian, Alex ("Sandy") Pentland & Esteban Moro

Scientific Reports 3, Article number: 1645 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep01645

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Sentience Everywhere: Complexity Theory, Panpsychism & the Role of Sentience in Self-Organization of the Universe

Philosophical understandings of consciousness divide into emergentist positions (when the universe is sufficiently organized and complex it gives rise to consciousness) vs. panpsychism (consciousness pervades the universe). A leading emergentist position derives from autopoietic theory of Maturana and Varela: to be alive is to have cognition, one component of which is sentience.  Here, reflecting autopoietic theory, we define sentience as: sensing of the surrounding environment, complex processing of information that has been sensed, (i.e. processing mechanisms defined by characteristics of a complex system), and generation of a response.  Further, complexity theory, points to all aspects of the universe comprising “systems of systems.” Bringing these themes together, we find that sentience is not limited to the living, but present throughout existence. Thus, a complexity approach shifts autopoietic theory from an emergentist to a panpsychist position and shows that sentience must be inherent in all structures of existence across all levels of scale.

 

Sentience Everywhere: Complexity Theory, Panpsychism & the Role of Sentience in Self-Organization of the Universe
Neil D. Theise, Menas Kafatos

Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research 

Vol 4, No 4 (2013) 

http://jcer.com/index.php/jcj/article/view/291

Complexity Digest's insight:

A problem with the study of consciousness (as in many other fields) is the lack of an agreed notion of the subject of study. Thus, different people can mean different things while using different words.

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Neil Theise's comment, April 29, 2013 11:33 AM
That is precisely the most important problem for the study of consciousness. That is why we are careful with our definition of "sentience" using the functional aspects of a complex system to do so: sentience = sensing of the environment, complex internal processing of that information (meaning that the structural and information components within the sentient structure fulfill the criteria for being a complex system) and response to what has been sensed. This definition derives from the work of Maturana and Varela and their discussions of their autopoietic theory and the implications of that theory for describing "mind."
Neil Theise's comment, April 29, 2013 11:33 AM
oops. the above comment was meant to respond to "Complexity Digest's Insight", above.
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Complex-valued information entropy measure for networks with directed links (digraphs). Application to citations by community agents with opposite opinions

The notion of complex-valued information entropy measure is presented. It applies in particular to directed networks (digraphs). The corresponding statistical physics notions are outlined. The studied network, serving as a case study, in view of illustrating the discussion, concerns citations by agents belonging to two distinct communities which have markedly different opinions: the Neocreationist and Intelligent Design Proponents, on one hand, and the Darwinian Evolution Defenders, on the other hand. The whole, intra- and inter-community adjacency matrices, resulting from quotations of published work by the community agents, are elaborated and eigenvalues calculated.(...)

 

Complex-valued information entropy measure for networks with directed links (digraphs). Application to citations by community agents with opposite opinions
Giulia Rotundo, Marcel Ausloos

The European Physical Journal B
April 2013, 86:169

http://dx.doi.org/10.1140/epjb/e2013-30985-6

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Bizarre Soft Robots Evolve to Run

Bizarre Soft Robots Evolve to Run | Papers | Scoop.it

This crazy looking thing is a simulated robot, made up of two different kinds of muscles along with bones and soft tissue for structure. This robot wasn't designed, it was evolved over a thousand virtual generations to move as fast, as far, and as functionally as possible.

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Self-Medication in Animals

The concept of antiparasite self-medication in animals typically evokes images of chimpanzees seeking out medicinal herbs to treat their diseases (1, 2). These images stem partly from the belief that animals can medicate themselves only when they have high cognitive abilities that allow them to observe, learn, and make conscious decisions (3). However, any concept of self-medication based solely on learning is inadequate. Many animals can use medication through innate rather than learned responses. The growing list of animal pharmacists includes moths (4), ants (5), and fruit flies (6). The fact that these animals self-medicate has profound implications for the ecology and evolution of animal hosts and their parasites.

 

Self-Medication in Animals
Jacobus C. de Roode, Thierry Lefèvre, Mark D. Hunter

Science 12 April 2013:
Vol. 340 no. 6129 pp. 150-151
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1235824

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The future of publishing: A new page

The future of publishing: A new page | Papers | Scoop.it

In this special issue, Nature explores the changing landscape. A News Feature weighs claims that online, author-pays publishing can drastically cut costs. Several authors discuss the nuts and bolts of making open-access publishing work well — including copyright pioneer John Wilbanks on open licensing agreements. A report explores the dark side of open access: publishers whose tactics lead authors to feel disgruntled or duped. And a Careers Feature offers advice for researchers trying to balance prestige, cost and career implications in deciding where to submit manuscripts.

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A demon-haunted theory

A demon-haunted theory | Papers | Scoop.it

James Clerk Maxwell originally devised his demon as a thought experiment to evade the second law of thermodynamics. But some of the physicist’s contemporaries actually believed it was an intelligent being that could bridge hidden worlds and provide a scientific route to immortality of the human soul. 

Complexity Digest's insight:

By Phillip Ball, to be published in the April issue of Physics World

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Characterizing scientific production and consumption in Physics

Characterizing scientific production and consumption in Physics | Papers | Scoop.it

We analyze the entire publication database of the American Physical Society generating longitudinal (50 years) citation networks geolocalized at the level of single urban areas. We define the knowledge diffusion proxy, and scientific production ranking algorithms to capture the spatio-temporal dynamics of Physics knowledge worldwide. By using the knowledge diffusion proxy we identify the key cities in the production and consumption of knowledge in Physics as a function of time. The results from the scientific production ranking algorithm allow us to characterize the top cities for scholarly research in Physics. Although we focus on a single dataset concerning a specific field, the methodology presented here opens the path to comparative studies of the dynamics of knowledge across disciplines and research areas.

 

Characterizing scientific production and consumption in Physics

Qian Zhang, Nicola Perra, Bruno Gonçalves, Fabio Ciulla & Alessandro Vespignani

Scientific Reports 3, Article number: 1640 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep01640

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Measuring Simulation-Observation Fit

Most traditional strategies of assessing the fit between a simulation's set of predictions (outputs) and a set of relevant observations rely either on visual inspection or squared distances among averages. Here we introduce an alternative goodness-of-fit strategy, Ordinal Pattern Analysis (OPA) that will (we argue) be more appropriate for judging the goodness-of-fit of simulations in many situations. OPA is based on matches and mismatches among the ordinal properties of predictions and observations. It does not require predictions or observations to meet the requirements of interval or ratio measurement scales. In addition, OPA provides a means to assess prediction-observation fits case-by-case prior to aggregation, and to map domains of validity of competing simulations. We provide examples to illustrate how OPA can be employed to assess the ordinal fit and domains of validity of simulations of share prices, crime rates, and happiness ratings. We also provide a computer programme for assisting in the calculation of OPA indices.

 

Measuring Simulation-Observation Fit: An Introduction to Ordinal Pattern Analysis
by Warren Thorngate and Bruce Edmonds
http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/16/2/4.html

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 16 (2) 4

 

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Big data: What’s your plan?

Big data: What’s your plan? | Papers | Scoop.it

The payoff from joining the big-data and advanced-analytics management revolution is no longer in doubt. The tally of successful case studies continues to build, reinforcing broader research suggesting that when companies inject data and analytics deep into their operations, they can deliver productivity and profit gains that are 5 to 6 percent higher than those of the competition.1 The promised land of new data-driven businesses, greater transparency into how operations actually work, better predictions, and faster testing is alluring indeed.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to get from here to there. The required investment, measured both in money and management commitment, can be large. CIOs stress the need to remake data architectures and applications totally. Outside vendors hawk the power of black-box models to crunch through unstructured data in search of cause-and-effect relationships. Business managers scratch their heads—while insisting that they must know, upfront, the payoff from the spending and from the potentially disruptive organizational changes.

 

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On Creativity of Slime Mould

Slime mould Physarum polycephalum is large single cell with intriguingly smart behaviour. The slime mould shows outstanding abilities to adapt its protoplasmic network to varying environmental conditions. The slime mould can solve tasks of computational geometry, image processing, logics and arithmetics when data are represented by configurations of attractants and repellents. We attempt to map behavioural patterns of slime onto the cognitive control versus schizotypy spectrum phase space and thus interpret slime mould's activity in terms of creativity.

 

On Creativity of Slime Mould

Andrew Adamatzky, Rachel Armstrong, Jeff Jones, Yukio-Pegio Gunji

http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.2050

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Stop Hyping Big Data and Start Paying Attention to 'Long Data'

By “long” data, I mean datasets that have massive historical sweep — taking you from the dawn of civilization to the present day. The kinds of datasets you see in Michael Kremer’s “Population growth and technological change: one million BC to 1990,” which provides an economic model tied to the world’s population data for a million years; or in Tertius Chandler’s Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth, which contains an exhaustive dataset of city populations over millennia. These datasets can humble us and inspire wonder, but they also hold tremendous potential for learning about ourselves.

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Computers Made Out of DNA, Slime and Other Strange Stuff

Computers Made Out of DNA, Slime and Other Strange Stuff | Papers | Scoop.it

Everybody knows a computer is a machine made of metal and plastic, with microchip cores turning streams of electrons into digital reality.

A century from now, though, computers could look quite different. They might be made from neurons and chemical baths, from bacterial colonies and pure light, unrecognizable to our old-fashioned 21st century eyes.

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Robust detection of dynamic community structure in networks

We describe techniques for the robust detection of community structure in some classes of time-dependent networks. Specifically, we consider the use of statistical null models for facilitating the principled identification of structural modules in semi-decomposable systems. Null models play an important role both in the optimization of quality functions such as modularity and in the subsequent assessment of the statistical validity of identified community structure. We examine the sensitivity of such methods to model parameters and show how comparisons to null models can help identify system scales. By considering a large number of optimizations, we quantify the variance of network diagnostics over optimizations (“optimization variance”) and over randomizations of network structure (“randomization variance”). Because the modularity quality function typically has a large number of nearly degenerate local optima for networks constructed using real data, we develop a method to construct representative partitions that uses a null model to correct for statistical noise in sets of partitions. To illustrate our results, we employ ensembles of time-dependent networks extracted from both nonlinear oscillators and empirical neuroscience data.

 

Robust detection of dynamic community structure in networks
Danielle S. Bassett, Mason A. Porter, Nicholas F. Wymbs, Scott T. Grafton, Jean M. Carlson, and Peter J. Mucha

Chaos 23, 013142 (2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4790830 ;

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ComplexInsight's curator insight, April 22, 2013 4:50 PM

Good catch by Eugene and the Complexity Digest team. Ability to examine network structure communal and adhoc in time-dependent networks will become increasingly important with complex systems analysis. Interesting read.

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Friendship Paradox Redux: Your Friends Are More Interesting Than You

Feld's friendship paradox states that "your friends have more friends than you, on average." This paradox arises because extremely popular people, despite being rare, are overrepresented when averaging over friends. Using a sample of the Twitter firehose, we confirm that the friendship paradox holds for >98% of Twitter users. Because of the directed nature of the follower graph on Twitter, we are further able to confirm more detailed forms of the friendship paradox: everyone you follow or who follows you has more friends and followers than you. This is likely caused by a correlation we demonstrate between Twitter activity, number of friends, and number of followers. In addition, we discover two new paradoxes: the virality paradox that states "your friends receive more viral content than you, on average," and the activity paradox, which states "your friends are more active than you, on average." The latter paradox is important in regulating online communication. It may result in users having difficulty maintaining optimal incoming information rates, because following additional users causes the volume of incoming tweets to increase super-linearly. While users may compensate for increased information flow by increasing their own activity, users become information overloaded when they receive more information than they are able or willing to process. We compare the average size of cascades that are sent and received by overloaded and underloaded users. And we show that overloaded users post and receive larger cascades and they are poor detector of small cascades.

 

Friendship Paradox Redux: Your Friends Are More Interesting Than You

Nathan O. Hodas, Farshad Kooti, Kristina Lerman

http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.3480

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luiy's curator insight, May 3, 2013 6:05 AM

If you have ever felt like your friends are more interesting or more active than you are, it seems the statistics confirm this to be true for the vast majority of us. The consequence, beyond the psychological implication of comparing oneself to one’s friends, is that we will receive more incoming information than we prefer, i.e., information overload. We make contacts with people who are easiest to discover – who are the most active – but we have a finite budget for communication. The present work shows that the resulting superlinear increase in information arising from following additional users could be a significant cognitive load (Sweller, Merrienboer, and Paas 1998).

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Holy Coding Error, Batman

The intellectual edifice of austerity economics rests largely on two academic papers that were seized on by policy makers, without ever having been properly vetted, because they said what the Very Serious People wanted to hear. One was Alesina/Ardagna on the macroeconomic effects of austerity, which immediately became exhibit A for those who wanted to believe in expansionary austerity. Unfortunately, even aside from the paper’s failure to distinguish between episodes in which monetary policy was available and those in which it wasn’t, it turned out that their approach to measuring austerity was all wrong; when the IMF used a measure that tracked actual policy, it turned out that contractionary policy was contractionary.

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Citizen science: Amateur experts

Equipped with smartphones, computers and do-it-yourself sampling kits, lay volunteers are tweeting about snowfall, questing for comets and measuring the microbes in their guts. They are part of a growing group of 'citizen scientists', networks of non-scientists who help to analyse or collect data as part of a researcher-led project. They learn about science and get a chance to participate, but the scientists involved stand to gain too.

 

Citizen science: Amateur experts

Trisha Gura
Nature 496, 259–261 (11 April 2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nj7444-259a

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luiy's curator insight, April 13, 2013 11:49 AM

Publications using data from citizen science are becoming more common, and even encouraged. Researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey, for example, have used data from Nature's Notebook to expand a model of the timing of leaf-bud bursting from the Harvard Forest area in Massachusetts to the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. The team published its expanded model this year (S.-J. Jeonget al. Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 359–364; 2013). Not only did peer reviewers welcome the citizen-science data, but one actually gave advice on how to use the citizen-science model more effectively, says Weltzin.

 

If all goes well, citizen science is a way to communicate science, engage in outreach and accomplish research aims. “You are getting the information that you need at the same time that you are getting people involved,” says Weltzin. “It is like playing Whack-a-Mole with all hammers out. You meet all of your objectives at one time.”

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Alfred Russel Wallace: Evolution's red-hot radical

Sidekick status does Wallace an injustice. He was a visionary scientist in his own right, a daring explorer and a passionate socialist. This year's conferences and exhibitions marking a century since his death in 1913 (see go.nature.com/icpkp8) provide an excellent opportunity to reappraise his huge scientific legacy, which ranged from discovering natural selection to defining the term species, and from founding the field of evolutionary biogeography to pioneering the study of comparative natural history.

 

Alfred Russel Wallace: Evolution's red-hot radical

Andrew Berry
Nature 496, 162–164 (11 April 2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/496162a

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Survivor Curve Shape and Internet Revenue: A Laboratory Experiment

When should a necessary inconvenience be introduced gradually, and when should it be imposed all at once? The question is crucial to web content providers, who in order to generate revenue must sooner or later introduce advertisements, subscription fees, or other inconveniences. In a setting where people eventually fully adapt to changes, the answer depends on the shape of the 'survivor curve' S(x), which represents the fraction of a user population willing to tolerate inconveniences of size x (Aperjis and Huberman 2011).

 

We report a new laboratory experiment that, for the first time, estimates the shape of survivor curves in several different settings. We engage laboratory subjects in a series of six desirable activities, e.g., playing a video game, viewing a chosen video clip, or earning money by answering questions. For each activity we introduce a chosen level x ∈ [xmin,xmax] of a particular inconvenience, and each subject chooses whether to tolerate the inconvenience or to switch to a bland activity for the remaining time. 

 

Our key finding is that the survivor curve is log-concave in all six activities. Theory suggests that web content providers therefore will generally find it profitable to introduce inconveniences gradually over time, with the timing chosen to balance the number of long-term users against more rapid revenue acquisition.

 

Survivor Curve Shape and Internet Revenue: A Laboratory Experiment

Christina Aperjis, Ciril Bosch-Rosa, Daniel Friedman, Bernardo Huberman

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2215403

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Visually-Driven Urban Simulation: exploring fast and slow change in residential location

A large-scale residential-location model of the Greater London region is being developed in which all stages of the model-building process—from data input, analysis through calibration to prediction—are rapid to execute and accessible in a visual and immediate fashion. The model is structured to distribute trips across competing modes of transport from employment to population locations. It is cast in an entropy-maximising framework which has been extended to measure actual components of energy—travel costs, free energy, and unusable energy (entropy itself)—and these provide indicators for examining future scenarios based on changing the costs of travel in the metro region. Although the model is comparatively static, we interpret its predictions in terms of fast and slow processes—‘fast’ relating to changes in transport modes, and ‘slow’ relating to changes in location. After developing and explaining the model using appropriate visual analytics, a scenario in which road-travel costs double is tested: this shows that mode switching is considerably more significant than shifts in location—which are minimal. 

 

Batty M, 2013, "Visually-Driven Urban Simulation: exploring fast and slow change in residential location" Environment and Planning A 45(3) 532 – 552 

http://www.envplan.com/abstract.cgi?id=a44153

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Opening the Black-Box of Peer Review

This paper investigates the impact of referee behaviour on the quality and efficiency of peer review. We focused on the importance of reciprocity motives in ensuring cooperation between all involved parties. We modelled peer review as a process based on knowledge asymmetries and subject to evaluation bias. We built various simulation scenarios in which we tested different interaction conditions and author and referee behaviour. We found that reciprocity cannot always have per se a positive effect on the quality of peer review, as it may tend to increase evaluation bias. It can have a positive effect only when reciprocity motives are inspired by disinterested standards of fairness.

 

Opening the Black-Box of Peer Review: An Agent-Based Model of Scientist Behaviour
by Flaminio Squazzoni and Claudio Gandelli
http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/16/2/3.html

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 16 (2) 3

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Complexity over Uncertainty in Generalized Representational Information Theory (GRIT): A Structure-Sensitive General Theory of Information

What is information? Although researchers have used the construct of information liberally to refer to pertinent forms of domain-specific knowledge, relatively few have attempted to generalize and standardize the construct. Shannon and Weaver (1949) offered the best known attempt at a quantitative generalization in terms of the number of discriminable symbols required to communicate the state of an uncertain event. This idea, although useful, does not capture the role that structural context and complexity play in the process of understanding an event as being informative. In what follows, we discuss the limitations and futility of any generalization (and particularly, Shannon’s) that is not based on the way that agents extract patterns from their environment. More specifically, we shall argue that agent concept acquisition, and not the communication of states of uncertainty, lie at the heart of generalized information, and that the best way of characterizing information is via the relative gain or loss in concept complexity that is experienced when a set of known entities (regardless of their nature or domain of origin) changes. We show that Representational Information Theory perfectly captures this crucial aspect of information and conclude with the first generalization of RIT to continuous domains.

 

Complexity over Uncertainty in Generalized Representational Information Theory (GRIT): A Structure-Sensitive General Theory of Information
Ronaldo Vigo

Information 2013, 4(1), 1-30; http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/info4010001

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Braess like Paradox in a Small World Network

Braess \cite{1} has been studied about a traffic flow on a diamond type network and found that introducing new edges to the networks always does not achieve the efficiency. Some researchers studied the Braess' paradox in similar type networks by introducing various types of cost functions. But whether such paradox occurs or not is not scarcely studied in complex networks. In this article, I analytically and numerically study whether Braess like paradox occurs or not on Dorogovtsev-Mendes network\cite{2}, which is a sort of small world networks. The cost function needed to go along an edge is postulated to be equally identified with the length between two nodes, independently of an amount of traffic on the edge. It is also assumed the it takes a certain cost $c$ to pass through the center node in Dorogovtsev-Mendes network. If $c$ is small, then bypasses have the function to provide short cuts. As result of numerical and theoretical analyses, while I find that any Braess' like paradox will not occur when the network size becomes infinite, I can show that a paradoxical phenomenon appears at finite size of network.

 

Braess like Paradox in a Small World Network

Norihito Toyota

http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.2126

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Optimal state-space reconstruction using derivatives on projected manifold

A paradigm for optimal state-space reconstruction with nonuniform time delays is proposed. A comparison based on a diffeomorphic measure and a smoothness cost function shows that the proposed methodology achieves a better reconstruction compared to a reconstruction based on time delays that are multiples of the first minimum of mutual information. It is also shown how the proposed methodology is a more reliable approach to determining the embedding dimension.

 

Optimal state-space reconstruction using derivatives on projected manifold

Chetan Nichkawde

Phys. Rev. E 87, 022905 (2013)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.87.022905

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Stability and Responsiveness in a Self-Organized Living Architecture

Stability and Responsiveness in a Self-Organized Living Architecture | Papers | Scoop.it

Robustness and adaptability are central to the functioning of biological systems, from gene networks to animal societies. Yet the mechanisms by which living organisms achieve both stability to perturbations and sensitivity to input are poorly understood. Here, we present an integrated study of a living architecture in which army ants interconnect their bodies to span gaps. We demonstrate that these self-assembled bridges are a highly effective means of maintaining traffic flow over unpredictable terrain. The individual-level rules responsible depend only on locally-estimated traffic intensity and the number of neighbours to which ants are attached within the structure. We employ a parameterized computational model to reveal that bridges are tuned to be maximally stable in the face of regular, periodic fluctuations in traffic. However analysis of the model also suggests that interactions among ants give rise to feedback processes that result in bridges being highly responsive to sudden interruptions in traffic. Subsequent field experiments confirm this prediction and thus the dual nature of stability and flexibility in living bridges. Our study demonstrates the importance of robust and adaptive modular architecture to efficient traffic organisation and reveals general principles regarding the regulation of form in biological self-assemblies.

 

Garnier S, Murphy T, Lutz M, Hurme E, Leblanc S, et al. (2013) Stability and Responsiveness in a Self-Organized Living Architecture. PLoS Comput Biol 9(3): e1002984. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002984

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