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Slime Design Mimics Tokyo's Rail System

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mold-based network construction

This network formation was constructed in Physarum polycephalum by placing a small plasmodium of Physarum at the location of Tokyo in an experimental arena bounded by the Pacific coastline (white border) and supplemented with additional food sources at ea

Credit: Science / AAAS

Hokkaido University researchers, working with colleagues in the United Kingdom and Japan, recently completed a study suggesting that a fungus-like mold might be a good example of how to construct computer and mobile communication networks.

Hokkaido's Atsushi Tero and colleagues observed that the slime mold connected itself to food sources in a pattern that was nearly identical to Tokyo's railway system. The food sources were placed in a way that corresponded to the cities surrounding Tokyo. The slime mold grew outwards from the center and created a network that was comparable to Tokyo's actual infrastructure. The researchers observed the core mechanisms needed by the mold to connect to its food and transformed them into an algorithm.

"Biologically inspired pure mathematical models can lead to completely new, highly efficient algorithms able to provide technical systems with essential features of living systems, for applications in areas such as computer science," says Otto von Guericke University's Wolfgang Marwan.

The research provides a starting point for improving the efficiency of networks such as remote sensor displays, mobile ad hoc networks, and wireless mesh networks, Tero says.

From EurekAlert
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