Social Foraging
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Social Foraging
Dynamics of Social Interaction
Curated by Ashish Umre
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New algorithms improve efficiency of underwater mine-sweeping robots

New algorithms improve efficiency of underwater mine-sweeping robots | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

In addition to human divers equipped with sonar cameras, the U.S. Navy has also trained dolphins and sea lions to search for bombs on and around vessels. All these methods are expensive and can’t always deliver the best performance in all environments. Robots would seem to be the obvious answer and underwater robots have been the focus of much research and development in recent years. Now researchers at MIT have developed new algorithms to vastly improve the navigation and feature-detecting capabilities of these robots.

 

With the ultimate goal of designing completely autonomous robots that can navigate and map cloudy underwater environments without any prior knowledge of the environment and detect mines as small as 10 cm in diameter, Franz Hover, the Finmeccanica Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and graduate student Brendan Englot came up with algorithms to program a robot called the Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV).

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Theory, Evolution, and Games Group

The EGG has 3 themes: (i) theoretical cognitive science and mathematical psychology, (ii) theory of evolutionary processes and complexity, and (iii) evolutionary game theory. We use analytic and simulation techniques to model and answer questions in all 3 disciplines. Of particular interest is harnessing some of the powerful tools available to theoretical computer science and physics. Our specifics interest include: the interplay of learning, development, and evolution; evolution of ethnocentrism; mutation forces as a driver of evolution; games on social networks; active learning; and models of decision making.

This blog launched as an extension of the earlier evolutionary game theory reading group at McGill University. It is organized by Artem Kaznatcheev and collaborates closely with Thomas R. Shultz‘s Laboratory for Natural and Simulated Cognition. The blog presents paper reviews, introductions to tools, and preliminary work. Our reading concentrates on papers that apply nice analytic or computational models to questions in EGT.

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Multiple strategies in structured populations

Many specific models have been proposed to study evolutionary game dynamics in structured populations, but most analytical results so far describe the competition of only two strategies. Here we derive a general result that holds for any number of strategies, for a large class of population structures under weak selection. We show that for the purpose of strategy selection any evolutionary process can be characterized by two key parameters that are coefficients in a linear inequality containing the payoff values. These structural coefficients, σ1 and σ2, depend on the particular process that is being studied, but not on the number of strategies, n, or the payoff matrix. For calculating these structural coefficients one has to investigate games with three strategies, but more are not needed. Therefore, n = 3 is the general case. Our main result has a geometric interpretation: Strategy selection is determined by the sum of two terms, the first one describing competition on the edges of the simplex and the second one in the center. Our formula includes all known weak selection criteria of evolutionary games as special cases. As a specific example we calculate games on sets and explore the synergistic interaction between direct reciprocity and spatial selection. We show that for certain parameter values both repetition and space are needed to promote evolution of cooperation.

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Human eye inspires clog-free ink jet printer invention

Clogged printer nozzles waste time and money while reducing print quality. University of Missouri engineers recently invented a clog-preventing nozzle cover by mimicking the human eye.

 

"The nozzle cover we invented was inspired by the human eye," said Jae Wan Kwon, associate professor in the College of Engineering. "The eye and an ink jet nozzle have a common problem: they must not be allowed to dry while, simultaneously, they must open. We used biomimicry, the imitation of nature, to solve human problems."

 

Kwon's invention uses a droplet of silicone oil to cover the opening of the nozzle when not in use, similar to the film of oil that keeps a thin layer of tears from evaporating off the eye. On the surface of the human eye, eyelids spread the film of oil over the layer of tears. However, at the tiny scale of the ink jet nozzle, mechanical shutters like eyelids would not work, as they would be stuck in place by surface tension. Instead, the droplet of oil for the nozzle is easily moved in and out of place by an electric field.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-human-eye-clog-free-ink-jet.html#jCp

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All UK taxpayer-funded scientific research could be made freely available by 2014 under new government plans

All UK taxpayer-funded scientific research could be made freely available by 2014 under new government plans | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Publicly funded scientific research will be made available for free to study by 2014, under controversial government plans which emerged today.

 

The revolutionary approach to accessing online articles will help researchers and boost the economy, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said.

 

It follows widespread calls for ‘open access’ to research papers, following complaints from academics that traditional journal publishers are charging too much.

 

British universities currently pay around £200million in annual subscription fees to publishers for access to research documents on scientific subjects.

 

Mr Willetts insisted the idea will benefit researchers - and that taxpayers should not pay to view content they have funded.

He told the Guardian: ‘There is a transitional cost to go through, but it’s overall of benefit to our research community and there’s general acceptance it’s the right thing to do.

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Solving The World’s Water Crisis With A Beetle?

Solving The World’s Water Crisis With A Beetle? | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

A couple of Boston College graduates and MassChallenge finalists are banking on a beetle to help solve the world’s clean water crisis.

 

A couple of Boston College graduates are banking on a beetle to help solve the world’s clean water crisis.The World Water Council estimates about 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water worldwide. Deckard Sorensen and Miguel Galvez are hoping to help change that through their start-up company NBD Nanotechnologies.

 

They already won the $10,000 grand prize from the Boston College Venture Competition, which is going toward developing their prototype.

 

NBD’s design for a water collecting device is based on the Namib Desert Beetle, which manages to survive in one of the hottest, driest, and most uninhabitable places on the planet. The bug uses its back to extract its water supply from morning fogs. Wind pushes the moisture into the peaks of the beetle’s back until enough condensation builds up to form droplets of water.

 

Galvez credits Sorensen with coming up with an idea while taking a Biomimicry course.

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Detecting hidden nodes in complex networks from time series

We develop a general method to detect hidden nodes in complex networks, using only time series from nodes that are accessible to external observation. Our method is based on compressive sensing and we formulate a general framework encompassing continuous- and discrete-time and the evolutionary-game type of dynamical systems as well. For concrete demonstration, we present an example of detecting hidden nodes from an experimental social network. Our paradigm for detecting hidden nodes is expected to find applications in a variety of fields where identifying hidden or black-boxed objects based on a limited amount of data is of interest.

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3D printed vascular network made from sugar

3D printed vascular network made from sugar | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Researchers have shown that 3D printed templates can be used to rapidly create vasculature and improve engineered living tissues.

 

Without a vascular system—a highway for delivering nutrients and removing waste products—living cells on the inside of a 3D tissue structure quickly die. Thin tissues grown from a few layers of cells don’t have this problem, as all of the cells have direct access to nutrients and oxygen.

 

Bioengineers have therefore explored 3D printing as a way to prototype tissues containing large volumes of living cells.

 

The most commonly explored techniques are layer-by-layer fabrication, or bioprinting, where single layers or droplets of cells and gel are created and then assembled together one drop at a time, somewhat like building a stack of LEGOs.

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A Comprehensive Study of Existing Multicast Routing Protocols Used in Mobile Ad Hoc Networks

Mobile Ad-hoc Networks are collection of mobile hosts linked wirelessly with no fixed communications or central supervision. The mobile hosts are self-organized and can be deployed everywhere and at any time. One of the major applications of MANETs is military and disaster recovery. These applications demand for proper communication and coordination among the mobile host. This is achieved with the help of multicasting. Multicasting plays an important role in mobile ad hoc networks. Multicasting is more beneficial than multiple unicast in a bandwidth-constrained ad hoc networks. In this paper, the authors made a comprehensive study on existing multicast routing protocols.

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The Eyes Don’t Have It: Lie Detection and Neuro-Linguistic Programming

The Eyes Don’t Have It: Lie Detection and Neuro-Linguistic Programming | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Proponents of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) claim that certain eye-movements are reliable indicators of lying. According to this notion, a person looking up to their right suggests a lie whereas looking up to their left is indicative of truth telling. Despite widespread belief in this claim, no previous research has examined its validity. In Study 1 the eye movements of participants who were lying or telling the truth were coded, but did not match the NLP patterning. In Study 2 one group of participants were told about the NLP eye-movement hypothesis whilst a second control group were not.

 

Both groups then undertook a lie detection test. No significant differences emerged between the two groups. Study 3 involved coding the eye movements of both liars and truth tellers taking part in high profile press conferences. Once again, no significant differences were discovered. Taken together the results of the three studies fail to support the claims of NLP. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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How does an ant decide what to do?

How does an ant decide what to do? | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

We eat when we’re hungry, but social insects have to make decisions which will support the colony not just themselves. They typically divide labour as well as reproductive duties. Even in ant species such as Lasius niger where workers are not split into different physical ‘castes’, some workers stay in the nest while others leave to forage. It is often the younger ants who care for the nest while older ants leave to collect food.

 

Information that individuals could use to decide whether to forage includes their own experience of performing tasks, or their own physiology such as fat reserves. This was investigated in a recent paper published in the Journal for Experimental Biology.

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Living Cells Show How to Fix the Financial System

Living Cells Show How to Fix the Financial System | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Over the past three decades, the global financial system has become more dynamic and interconnected, more concentrated and complicated than ever before. Financial engineering seems to know no limits to creating new instruments that link institutions in new ways. Is that a good thing? Or could the resulting financial network be too complex? Or, perhaps, complex in the wrong way?

 

A look at biology -- which has been tinkering with network designs for billions of years -- suggests that the answer to the last question is most likely yes.

 

In “The Architecture of Complexity,” an extraordinarily original paper published 50 years ago, the economist, psychologist and artificial-intelligence pioneer Herbert Simon asked the question, Why does nature so consistently organize itself into hierarchies? Why, that is, are so many of its creations designed as systems of systems?

In biology, for example, cells organize into tissues, tissues into organs, organs into larger systems.

 

The cell itself contains a nucleus and a cell membrane, ribosomes and mitochondria. Our human organizations obviously also follow hierarchies, as do our buildings, technological devices, even our writing -- words make sentences, which build paragraphs, which then make up essays or chapters.

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Cyberwarfare, conservation and disease prevention could benefit from new network model

Computer networks are the battlefields in cyberwarfare, as exemplified by the United States' recent use of computer viruses to attack Iran's nuclear program. A computer model developed at the University of Missouri could help military strategists devise the most damaging cyber attacks as well as guard America's critical infrastructure. The model also could benefit other projects involving interconnected groups, such as restoring ecosystems, halting disease epidemics and stopping smugglers.

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Is Chaitin proving Darwin with metabiology?

Algorithmic information theory (AIT) allows us to study the inherent structure of objects, and qualify some as ‘random’ without reference to a generating distribution. The theory originated when Ray Solomonoff (1960), Andrey Kolmogorov (1965), and Gregory Chaitin (1966) looked at probability, statistics, and information through the algorithmic lens. Now the theory has become a central part of theoretical computer science, and a tool with which we can approach other disciplines. Chaitin uses it to formalize biology.

 

In 2009, he originated the new field of metabiology, a computation theoretic approach to evolution (Chaitin, 2009). Two months ago, Chaitin published his introduction and defense of the budding field: Proving Darwin: Making Biology Mathematical. His goal is to distill the essence of evolution, formalize it, and provide a mathematical proof that it ‘works’. I am very sympathetic to this goal.

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THE EVOLUTION OF EUSOCIALITY

Eusociality, in which some individuals reduce their own lifetime reproductive potential to raise the offspring of others, underlies the most advanced forms of social organization and the ecologically dominant role of social insects and humans. For the past four decades kin selection theory, based on the concept of inclusive fitness, has been the major theoretical attempt to explain the evolution of eusociality. Here we show the limitations of this approach. We argue that standard natural selection theory in the context of precise models of population structure represents a simpler and superior approach, allows the evaluation of multiple competing hypotheses, and provides an exact framework for interpreting empirical observations.

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A simple and general explanation for the evolution of altruism

We present a simple framework that highlights the most fundamental requirement for the evolution of altruism: assortment between individuals carrying the cooperative genotype and the helping behaviours of others with which these individuals interact. We partition the fitness effects on individuals into those due to self and those due to the ‘interaction environment’, and show that it is the latter that is most fundamental to understanding the evolution of altruism. We illustrate that while kinship or genetic similarity among those interacting may generate a favourable structure of interaction environments, it is not a fundamental requirement for the evolution of altruism, and even suicidal aid can theoretically evolve without help ever being exchanged among genetically similar individuals. Using our simple framework, we also clarify a common confusion made in the literature between alternative fitness accounting methods (which may equally apply to the same biological circumstances) and unique causal mechanisms for creating the assortment necessary for altruism to be favoured by natural selection.

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Low-cal diet's effects seen in fly brain, mouthpart

Low-cal diet's effects seen in fly brain, mouthpart | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

A novel technique for measuring tiny, rapid-fire secretions in the brains and mouthparts of fruit flies (drosophila) is providing insights into the beneficial effects of eating less -- information that ultimately could help people suffering from neuromuscular disorders.

 

Using the method, researchers uncovered never-before-seen brain chemistry that helps explain why fruit flies genetically manipulated to mimic conditions such as Parkinson's disease and myasthenia gravis are more vigorous and live longer when fed a restricted diet.

 

Published in June by Aging Cell, the research was conducted by a team from the School of Medicine and the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

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"Old boys' network" seen in monkeys

"Old boys' network" seen in monkeys | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

If you’re a male born to a fa­ther who’s a strong and en­dur­ing com­mun­ity lead­er, you’re more likely to be­come a lead­er your­self, due to the so­cial ad­van­tages ac­cru­ing from your dad’s po­si­tion. And even if your old man is­n’t a lead­er, oth­er men in your com­mun­ity may be more likely to take you un­der their wing than your sis­ters, lav­ish­ing at­ten­tion on you and show­ing you the ropes.

 

Sound like the de­scrip­tion of an old boys’ net­work?

 

May­be so, but it’s al­so the so­cial struc­ture that pre­vails among white-faced cap­u­chin mon­keys, those cute lit­tle New World pri­ma­tes as­so­ci­at­ed in pop­u­lar cul­ture with or­gan grinders, says Uni­vers­ity of Cal­i­for­nia Los An­ge­les an­thro­po­l­o­gist Su­san Per­ry. Her new work of­fers a glimpse in­to how our male an­ces­tors may have jock­eyed for pow­er and passed it on to their male off­spring.

 

“Off­spring, es­pe­cially male off­spring, raised in a group in which their fa­ther is the al­pha [dom­i­nant] male, through­out their ju­ve­nile phase en­joy a host of ad­van­tages over less for­tu­nate mon­keys,” said Per­ry, who has stud­ied cap­u­chins for 22 years. “A sta­ble, peace­ful family en­vi­ron­ment may have been im­por­tant to the well-be­ing and fu­ture suc­cess of chil­dren among our re­mote an­ces­tors, just as it is to chil­dren to­day.

 

Per­ry re­ports her find­ings in the cur­rent is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Ad­vanc­es in the Study of Be­hav­ior.

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Game theory and racism: the Schelling Segregation Model

Game theory and racism: the Schelling Segregation Model | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Fidel Castro says America is “profoundly racist.” What do you think?

 

His statement made me think about segregation. I thought about racially divided neighborhoods in big cities. I thought about the “racial cliques” I observed among peers at Stanford. I thought about how few CEOs are of color. Is Castro right-do these things mean America is deeply racist?

 

The surprising answer is no. There is an alternate and perhaps more convincing explanation of why segregation happens.

During the 1960s the economist Thomas Schelling researched segregation and racial preferences. He suspected segregation was the result of a subtle interaction and he created a model to investigate. Not only did the model confirm his suspicion but it showed something very surprising: even very small preferences among otherwise civic individuals could lead to segregation.

 

I’ll cover the model and then explain its implications which affect everything from housing sales to company hiring policies.

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Mathematicians Are Working On Equations That Could Help Us Determine The Future Of Humanity

Mathematicians Are Working On Equations That Could Help Us Determine The Future Of Humanity | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

While reviewing our feature on the 17 equations that changed the world, we asked Mathematician Ian Stewart what equations missed the cut for his book, and what thefutureof mathematics might look like.

 

He mentioned Google's search algorithms and better equations describing the actual function of financial markets, but here's his bet for what's really going to change everything:

 

"Finance aside, I think the next really big NEW equation is going to emerge from mathematical biology. There are at least three areas ripe for an effective mathematical model: development (from egg to adult), ecosystems, and evolution. I think we will need a new concept of ‘equation’, though --- one that incorporates all of the genetic information in DNA, and other biochemical systems, and combines that with many other influences from the outside world."

 

Prorfessor Stewart mentioned the Hodgkins-Huxley model as a starting point and example. When asked what he almost included.

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Biological Link Between Pain And Fatigue Discovered

Biological Link Between Pain And Fatigue Discovered | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

A recent study reveals a biological link between pain and fatigue and may help explain why more women than men are diagnosed with chronic pain and fatigue conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

 

Working with mice, the researchers, led by Kathleen Sluka, Ph.D., professor in the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, found that a protein involved in muscle pain works in conjunction with the male hormone testosterone to protect against muscle fatigue.

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The more gray matter you have, the more altruistic you are

The more gray matter you have, the more altruistic you are | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The volume of a small brain region influences one's predisposition for altruistic behavior. Researchers from the University of Zurich show that people who behave more altruistically than others have more gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobe, thus showing for the first time that there is a connection between brain anatomy, brain activity and altruistic behavior.

 

Why are some people very selfish and others very altruistic? Previous studies indicated that social categories like gender, income or education can hardly explain differences in altruistic behavior. Recent neuroscience studies have demonstrated that differences in brain structure might be linked to differences in personality traits and abilities. Now, for the first time, a team of researchers from the University of Zurich headed by Ernst Fehr, Director of the Department of Economics, show that there is a connection between brain anatomy and altruistic behavior.

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Experience, corpulence and decision making in ant foraging

Social groups are structured by the decisions of their members. Social insects typically divide labour: some decide to stay in the nest while others forage for the colony. Two sources of information individuals may use when deciding whether to forage are their own experience of recent task performance and their own physiology, e.g. fat reserves (corpulence). The former is primarily personal information; the latter may give an indication of the food reserves of the whole colony. These factors are hard to separate because typically leaner individuals are also more experienced foragers. We designed an experiment to determine whether foraging specialisation is physiological or experience based (or both). We invented a system of automatic doors controlled by radio-tag information to manipulate task access and decouple these two sources of information.

 

Our results show that when information from corpulence and recent experience conflict, ants behave only in accordance with their corpulence. However, among ants physiologically inclined to forage (less corpulent ants), recent experience of success positively influenced their propensity to forage again. Hence, foraging is organised via long-term physiological differences among individuals resulting in a relatively stable response threshold distribution, with fine-tuning provided by short-term learning processes. Through these simple rules, colonies can organise their foraging effort both robustly and flexibly.

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WHY SLIM ANTS LISTEN TO THE COLLECTIVE STOMACH

A rumbly tummy is always a good sign that you need to get some food, but how do you know that you're hungry when you forage on behalf of a collective stomach? That is the problem faced by social insects. According to Elva Robinson from the University of York, UK, Temnothorax albipennis foragers are always the leanest occupants of the nest. However, ‘It's not as simple as the lean ants know when they're hungry and that triggers foraging’, explains Robinson, recalling that instead of consuming their honeydew load, slender foragers selflessly give it up to fatter nest mates. Robinson and her colleagues, Ofer Feinerman and Nigel Franks, wondered whether the skinnier ants forage because their mass has fallen below a critical threshold or whether the ants are motivated by their previous foraging experience and their slenderness is merely a side-effect of their frenetic lifestyle (p. 2653).

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Where will you be this time tomorrow? Smartphone data can guess within 20 metres

You may not know where you will be tomorrow, but your cell phone company might be able to guess.

 

UK researchers have developed an algorithm that can predict your future geographic location using data gathered from your friends’ smartphones.

 

In the study of two hundred people, the algorithm predicted the location of some users 24 hours later within 100 metres, others as close as 20 metres.

Mirco Musolesi, lead researcher and computer science lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said the algorithm is exploiting the synchronized rhythm of the city.

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