2nd Workshop on Biological Distributed Algorithms

October 11-12, 2014 in Austin, Texas USA - in conjunction with DISC 2014

Partially supported by the Division of Computer and Communication Foundations at the
National Science Foundation (NSF)

We are excited to announce the second workshop on Biological Distributed Algorithms (BDA). BDA is focused on the relationships between distributed computing and distributed biological systems and in particular, on analysis and case studies that combine the two. Such research can lead to better understanding of the behavior of the biological systems while at the same time developing novel computational algorithms that can be used to solve basic distributed computing problems.

The first BDA workshop, BDA 2013, was collocated with DISC 2013 (the 27th International Symposium on Distributed Computing) in Jerusalem. BDA 2014 will be collated with DISC 2014 in Austin, Texas. It will take place just before DISC, on Saturday and Sunday, October 11-12, 2014.

BDA 2014 will include talks on distributed algorithms related to a variety of biological systems. However, this time we will devote special attention to communication and coordination in insect colonies (e.g. foraging, navigation, task allocation, construction) and networks in the brain (e.g. learning, decision-making, attention).

Schedule (Saturday) :: Conference Notes: Session 1, Session 2, Session 3

10:00-10:15 - Organziers: Intro

10:15-10:45 - Anna Dornhaus - University of Arizona
Title: Insect colonies and distributed algorithms; insect colony researcher viewpoint.

10:45-11:30 - Nancy Lynch (MIT) [Slides] and Saket Navlakha (CMU) [Slides]
Title: Distributed algorithms and biological systems

11:30-12:00 - Ofer Feinerman - Weizmann Institute
Title: Queen for a moment: Collective load transport in ants

12:00-12:20 - Contributed Paper: Nancy Lynch, Cameron Musco and Tsvetomira Radeva [Slides]
Title: Studying House-Hunting in the Temnothorax Ant Using Distributed Computing Theory

12:20-1:30 - Lunch break (lunch served at the meeting, chance to mingle and chat)

1:30-2:00 - Stephen Pratt - Arizona State University [Slides]
Title: Distributed information processing by insect societies

2:00-2:30 - Radhika Nagpal - Harvard
Title: Cells, Termites, and Robot Collectives

2:30-3:00 - Amos Korman - CNRS and University of Paris Diderot [Slides]
Title: Confidence sharing: an economic strategy for efficient information flows in animal groups

3:00-3:30 - Coffee break

3:30-4:00 - Deborah Gordon - Stanford [Talk summary]
Title: The ecology of collective behavior

4:00-4:30 - Laurent Keller - University of Lausanne
Title: TBA

4:30-6:00 - Poster session

Schedule (Sunday) :: Conference Notes: Session 1, Session 2, Session 3, Session 4

8:00-9:00 - Breakfast (DISC)

9:00-9:30 - Dmitri Chklovskii - HHMI Janelia Farm [Slides]
Title: A neural network for linear subspace tracking

9:30-10:00 - James Marshall - University of Sheffield [Slides]
Title: From house-hunting honeybees to neural models and psychophysics

10:00-10:20 - Contributed Paper: Yuval Emek, Stephan Holzer and Roger Wattenhofer [Slides]
Title: The Power of a Leader in the Stone Age

10:30-11:00 - Coffee Break

11:00-11:30 - Ila Fiete - UT Austin
Title: Distributed neural codes for navigation in mammals

11:30-12:00 - Alex Cornejo - Harvard [Slides]
Title: Task allocation in ant colonies

12:00-12:20 - Contributed Paper: Shashank Singh, Saket Navlakha and Ziv Bar-Joseph [Slides]
Title: Distributed and computationally efficient belief propagation based on swarms of foraging bacteria

12:30-1:30 - Lunch break

1:30-2:00 - Andrea Richa - Arizona State University [Link to project]
Title: Programmable Matter: Models and Problems

2:00-2:20 - Contributed Paper: Chris Reid, Hannelore MacDonald, Tanya Latty, Richard Mann and Simon Garnier
Title: Cellular Decision-making: How an Amoeboid Organism Solves the Two-Armed Bandit Problem

2:20-2:40 - Contributed Paper: Yuval Emek, Tobias Langner, David Stolz, Jara Uitto and Roger Wattenhofer [Slides]
Title: Towards More Realistic ANTS

3:00-3:30 - Coffee break

3:30-3:50 - Contributed Paper: Yehuda Afek, Roman Kecher and Moshe Sulamy [Slides]
Title: Optimal Phermone Utilization

3:50-4:10 - Contributed Paper: Theodore Pavlic and Stephen Pratt [Slides]
Title: Numerical Methods within the Ant Colony: The Illuminating Case of Multi-Objective Macronutrient Regulation in Eusocial Insects

4:10-5:00 - General discussion, continue as needed

6:00-8:00 - DISC reception


1. Ila Fiete, David Schwab and Ngoc Tran. A binary Hopfield network with $1/\log(n)$ information rate and applications to grid cell decoding.

2. Mahnush Movahedi and Mahdi Zamani. On Optimal Decision-Making in Ant Colonies.

3. James Zou and Anders Johansson. Distributed Slime Mold Solver for Linear Programming Problems.

4. Chris R. Reid, Matthew Lutz, Scott Powell, Iain D. Couzin and Simon Garnier. An ant bridge too far: living architecture and self-organized shortcuts in army ants.

5. Helen Mccreery and Nikolaus Correll. Know when you’re beaten: Efficient cooperative transport requires either a directional bias or that outnumbered individuals give up quickly.

6. Daniel Charbonneau and Anna Dornhaus. When doing nothing is something. How task allocation mechanisms compromise between flexibility, efficiency, and inactive agents.

7. Peter Krafft. Implications of Impossibility Results from Distributed Algorithms for Consensus Strategies in Animal Groups.


Call for presentations

We solicit submissions of extended abstracts describing recent results relevant to biological distributed computing. We especially welcome extended abstracts describing new insights and / or case studies regarding the relationship between distributed computing and biological systems even if these are not fully formed. Since a major goal of the workshop is to explore new directions and approaches, we especially encourage the submission of ongoing work. Selected contributors would be asked to present, discuss and defend their work at the workshop. By default, the submissions will be evaluated for either oral or poster presentation, though authors may indicate in their submission if it should be only considered for one of the presentation types. Submissions should be in PDF and include title, author information, and a 4-page extended abstract. Shorter submissions are also welcome, particularly for poster presentation.

Please use the following EasyChair submission link: http://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=bda2014

Note: The workshop will not include published proceedings. In particular, we welcome submissions of extended abstracts describing work that has appeared or is expected to appear in other venues.

Important Dates:
July 23, 2014 - Extended abstract submission deadline (postponed due to requests of PODC participants)
July 18, 2014 - Extended abstract submission deadline
August 18, 2014 - Decision notifications
September 1, 2014 - Deadline for financial support requests
October 11-12, 2014 - Workshop

Financial support for student/postdoc participants

We will cover the registration fee and up to $500 of travel costs for selected participants at the student/postdoc level. In order to apply for this financial support, send an email to bda14workshop@gmail.com answering the following questions:
  1. What is your name and affiliation?
  2. Who is your advisor/host?
  3. What is your field of research? (A short paragraph would suffice.)
  4. Where will you be traveling from?
  5. Did you submit an extended abstract for poster or oral presentation at BDA 2014? What is the submission number?
Deadline for financial support requests: September 1, 2014

Program / Organizing committee

Ziv Bar-Joseph - CMU (co-chair)
Anna Dornhaus - University of Arizona
Yuval Emek - Technion (co-chair)
Amos Korman - CNRS and University of Paris Diderot (co-chair)
Nancy Lynch - MIT
Radhika Nagpal - Harvard
Saket Navlakha - CMU
Nir Shavit - MIT