Monday, February 01, 2010

Designing Slime

File this under the "Remember, it's not designed" category:

Since the best city planners around the world have not been able to end traffic jams, scientists are looking to a new group of experts: slime mold.

. . . .

The scientists let the mold organize itself and spread out around these nutrients, and found that it built a pattern very similar to the real-world train system connecting those cities around Tokyo. And in some ways, the amoeba solution was more efficient.

What's more, the slime mold built its network without a control center that could oversee and direct the whole enterprise; rather, it reinforced routes that were working and eliminated redundant channels, constantly adapting and adjusting for maximum efficiency.

. . . .

"The model captures the basic dynamics of network adaptability through interaction of local rules, and produces networks with properties comparable to or better than those of real-world infrastructure networks," Wolfgang Marwan of Otto von Guericke University in Germany, who was not involved in the project, wrote in an accompanying essay in the same issue of Science.

"The work of Tero and colleagues provides a fascinating and convincing example that biologically inspired pure mathematical models can lead to completely new, highly efficient algorithms able to provide technical systems with essential features of living systems," Marwan said.

HT: Telic Thoughts

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