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Distributed, Collective Computation in Biological and Artificial Systems

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Distributed, Collective Computation in Biological and Artificial Systems

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March 18 - 21, 2018
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How do distributed systems process and use information? How does one relate the coordinated, time-varying behavior of a system, whether it is a flock of animals, an ensemble of neurons, a network of genes, or a set of gates on a circuit board, to the underlying processing individual components, and collectives, may be performing? Answering these questions is a central challenge for diverse fields from biology to engineering. Human intuition for how the different components of a complex and strongly coupled system can work collectively to achieve a computational goal is limited, hindering our understanding of these processes and our ability to design systems that have such architectural and functional features.

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This conference will bring together experimental and computational researchers from neurobiology, distributed computing, animal collective behavior, machine learning, and bio-inspired swarm robotics, with the goal of identifying common challenges and inspiring new solution methods. All of these fields aim to understand systems in which data is processed in distributed form by harnessing efficient, parallel, learnable and scalable operation of simple, locally informed, units. By bringing together researchers with diverse backgrounds, intuitions, and approaches we hope to advance collectively (excuse the pun) our understanding of these fascinating scientific puzzles. We especially encourage applications from female scientists and those who identify with groups traditionally underrepresented in science.

Application deadline: November 19, 2017 (11:59 p.m. ET)


Iain Couzin, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology & University of Konstanz
Shaul Druckmann, Stanford University​
Kirstin Hagelskjær Petersen, Cornell University

Invited Participants

Rebecca DeFronzo, Draper Labs
Surya Ganguli, Stanford University
Deborah Gordon, Stanford University
Nir Gov, Weizmann Institute of Science
Roderich Gross, University of Sheffield
Heiko Hamann, University of Lübeck
​Andrew Hartnett, Disney Research Pittsburgh​
Albert Kao, Harvard University
Gilles Laurent, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research
Amy LaViers, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Naomi Leonard, Princeton University
Nils Napp, State University of New York at Buffalo
Nicholas Ouellette, Stanford University
Elad Schneidman, Weizmann Institute of Science
Hirokazu Shirado, Yale University
Ricard Solé, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Karel Svoboda, Janelia Research Campus/HHMI
Gašper Tkačik, Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Scott Turner, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry