Fruit fly brains for wireless deployments

 

Scientists apply insect nervous system to distributed computing.

A newly developed algorithm could improve distributed computer networks using principles behind the biological development of a fruit fly.

Described in the journal Science this week, the algorithm could allow engineers to effectively deploy distributed systems in a wider range of situations.

Current distributed networks typically communicate via a so-called 'maximal independent set' (MIS) of 'leader' nodes that connect to non-leader elements, but not each other.

Network elements self-select to join the MIS using an iterative, probabilistic method that is based, in part, on how many connections each element has with others.

According to machine learning researcher Ziv Bar-Joseph, the self-selection method is 'rapid' but requires a great deal of communication and advance knowledge of how components are connected to each other.

That requirement was energy-intensive and could be an issue for randomly distributed sensors, he said, highlighting ad hoc sensor networks and swarms of nanorobots as examples.

Bar-Joseph and his colleagues in Israel and the US studied the development of fruit flies, taking particular interest in how flies' brain cells organised themselves.

During larva and pupa stages, some cells self-selected to become sensory organ precursors (SOPs) that controlled sensory bristles on flies' bodies - like MIS nodes in a sensor network.

"MIS for sensor networks is similar [to SOPs] in some ways," said Bar-Joseph, of Carnegie Mellon University.

"[In distributed electronic networks], we are trying to obtain some globally smart behaviour from a collection of relatively cheap and weak processors.

"Similarly, each cell in our brain is pretty limited in terms of what it can do, but collectively they can do wonderful things."

Digital fly brains

While the researchers did not yet know how exactly fruit fly brains developed, Bar-Joseph expected their observations to be sufficient for an MIS selection algorithm.

"People have been looking at this for decades," he told iTnews. "It's not completely figured out yet [but] we don't care how the fly got to the solution."

The team closely observed two clusters of approximately 20 brain cells in each of 10 fruit fly pupae for three hours.

Unlike current MIS selection methods, the SOP selection process did not require cells to know the number of non-selected cells they neighboured.

MIS selection algorithm
MIS selection algorithm by Y Afek, N Alon, O Barad, E Hornstein, N Barkai, and Z Bar-Joseph. Courtesy of Science/AAAS.

Cells that became SOPs would emit a protein that inhibited their neighbours from self-selecting later, and the probability that a cell would self-select to become an SOP appeared to increase as time progressed.

Bar-Joseph said that few cells tended to self-select initially, so there was a small chance that neighbouring cells would "collide" by simultaneously self-selecting to become SOPs.

Such collisions occurred in fruit flies less than one percent of the time, he said, noting that flies that developed with conflicting SOP signals suffered an evolutionary disadvantage.

To avoid collisions in the digital model, the researchers determined that collisions would lead to the inhibition of all future communications between the two would-be leaders.

Their resultant algorithm was found to solve the MIS problem in a quick, robust manner, although it was slightly slower than current methods for networks with a large number of components.

Bar-Joseph expected the 15-line algorithm to be easily implemented in research projects and the industry, although the researchers had not yet spoken to industry members about their findings and had no commercial plans.

"We devised a solution to a longstanding distributed computing problem," the researchers wrote in Science.

"The biological approach is efficient and more robust because it doesn't require so many assumptions," Bar-Joseph said. "This makes the solution applicable to many more applications."

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Fruit fly brains for wireless deployments
Credit: Bbski, Wikimedia Commons
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Credit: Bbski, Wikimedia Commons
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  21%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1455

Vote