Emergence@ASU graduate student Alyssa Adams has won a prestigious summer internship working at Microsoft Research in the summer of 2017. Her research will focus on developing AI for better understanding Minecraft, building on her experience applying complex systems theory to online gaming with her current work on League of Legends. Congrats Alyssa!
Prof. Sara Walker heads to the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI) to give a talk on "Bio from Bit: Quantifying the Origins of Life". Click here for more details.
Abstract: The origin of life remains one of the most stubborn open questions in science. One of the primary stumbling blocks is that we do not yet have a universal understanding of what life is. Defining life is a subject of intense debate in its own right: a debate that is likely only to be resolved should we arrive a theory for life, universally applicable to life here on Earth and anywhere else we might hope to one day discover it. Arriving at such a theory will require separating those features of known life that are potentially universal from those that are contingent features of life on Earth. In this talk I discuss new approaches to the problem that focus on the informational and causal structure of living systems. This approach is rooted in contrasting the properties of biological networks with sampled networks sharing similar structural properties (such as topology) to discern those features that seem uniquely “biological” and could motivate development of future theories. I conclude with ideas motivated by this work that could provide insights into illuminating any distinctive physics operative in life and related processes that are applicable to solving the problem of life’s origins.
Emergence@ASU Postdoctoral fellow Enrico Boriello leads a new paper appearing on the arxiv preprint server titled "An Information-theoretic classification of complex systems". The paper provides a new way of classifying elementary cellular automata rules in terms of information transferred. We discuss how the three identified "information classes" that emerge relate to the concept of coarse-graining in cellular automata and also potential connections to living processes. The preprint is available here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1609.07554
An Information-theoretic Classification of Complex Systems
Enrico Borriello, Sara Imari Walker
Abstract: Using elementary cellular automata as an example, a novel, information-based classification of complex systems is proposed that circumvents the problems associated with isolating the complexity generated as a product of an initial state from that which is intrinsic to a dynamical rule. Transfer entropy variations processed by the system for different initial states split the 256 elementary rules into three information classes. These classes form a hierarchy such that coarse-graining transitions permitted among automata rules predominately occur within each information-based class, or much more rarely down the hierarchy.
Graduate student Cole Mathis will head to the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) held in Clemson S.C., USA Sept. 24-25th 2016 to give a talk titled "The Emergence of Life as a First Order Phase Transition". More information on the workshop is available here: http://kcs098.wixsite.com/socia
A new paper by Sara Walker and Paul Davies on "The Hidden Simplicity of Biology" is now available in Reports in Progress in Physics. The full text is available here.
Title: The Hidden Simplicity of Biology
Authors: Paul Davies and Sara Walker
Abstract: Life is so remarkable, and so unlike any other physical system, that it is tempting to attribute special factors to it. Physics is founded on the assumption that universal laws and principles underlie all natural phenomena, but is it far from clear that there are 'laws of life' with serious descriptive or predictive power analogous to the laws of physics. Nor is there (yet) a 'theoretical biology' in the same sense as theoretical physics. Part of the obstacle in developing a universal theory of biological organization concerns the daunting complexity of living organisms. However, many attempts have been made to glimpse simplicity lurking within this complexity, and to capture this simplicity mathematically. In this paper we review a promising new line of inquiry to bring coherence and order to the realm of biology by focusing on 'information' as a unifying concept.
Graduate student Harrison Smith and postdoctoral fellow Hyunju Kim head to the Conference on Complex Systems 2016 held in Beurs Van Berlage, Amsterdam Sept. 19-22, 2016. Harrison will present at talk titled "Network theoretic constraints on metabolic diversity explain universal features of life on Earth" and Hyunju will present two talks on "Informational architecture to chracterize controllability of biological networks" and "Information Processing in Biomolecular Regulatory Networks". The full program can be found here at the conference website here: http://www.ccs2016.org/.
We are pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Gabriele Valentini to the Emergence@ASU group! Gabriele joins us from Université Libre de Bruxelles and will be working on a NSF sponsored project on "Emergent Computation in Collective Decision Making by the Crevice-Dwelling Rock Ant Temnothorax rugatulus" in collaboration with Stephen Pratt (ASU SOLS) and Ted Pavlic (ASU SCISDE & Sustainability). You can learn more about Gabriele here.
The Astrobiology Primer 2.o, co-authored by PI Sara Walker, is an educational document reviewing the diversity of astrobiology research published in the journal Astrobiology! This is a follow-up on the highly successful Astrobiology Primer 1.0 project published 10 years ago. The 2.0 version is open-access and is available here.
Emergence@ASU graduate students Harrison Smith and Tessa Fisher are attending a NASA-sponsored "workshop without walls" as part of the NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS). The workshop is aimed at setting future directions in exoplanet biosignatures and has been profiled in Nature, and Scientific American. Emergence@ASU PI Sara Walker will deliver a plenary talk on "Statistical Signatures of Life" as part of the workshop. The full workshop agenda is available here and is open for remote participation!
Sara Imari Walker