Slime Mold Leaves Urban Planners Unemployed

By Chris Fariss

The abstract of a recently published report in Science:

Transport networks are ubiquitous in both social and biological systems. Robust network performance involves a complex trade-off involving cost, transport efficiency, and fault tolerance. Biological networks have been honed by many cycles of evolutionary selection pressure and are likely to yield reasonable solutions to such combinatorial optimization problems. Furthermore, they develop without centralized control and may represent a readily scalable solution for growing networks in general. We show that the slime mold Physarum polycephalum forms networks with comparable efficiency, fault tolerance, and cost to those of real-world infrastructure networks—in this case, the Tokyo rail system. The core mechanisms needed for adaptive network formation can be captured in a biologically inspired mathematical model that may be useful to guide network construction in other domains.

Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Dan P. Bebber, Mark D. Fricker, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi, Toshiyuki Nakagaki. 2010. “Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network DesignScience Vol. 327. no. 5964, pp. 439 – 442 DOI: 10.1126/science.1177894

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One response to “Slime Mold Leaves Urban Planners Unemployed

  1. This paper is really interesting.

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