3rd Workshop on Biological Distributed Algorithms

August 18-19, 2015 in Boston, MA USA at MIT

Location: MIT CSAIL, 32 Vassar Street - Building 32-D463 (star conference room)
Cambridge, MA 02139

We are excited to announce the third 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 algorithms that can be used to solve basic distributed computing problems.

BDA 2015 will include talks on distributed algorithms related to a variety of biological systems. 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).

Invited speakers [Speaker abstracts]

Yehuda Afek (Tel Aviv University) -- Faster task allocation by idle ants
Ziv Bar-Joseph (CMU) -- Belief propagation in bacterial food search
Spring Berman (Arizona State) -- Control and Estimation Techniques for Adaptive Robotic Swarms
Jennifer Fewell (Arizona State) -- Division of labor: the organization and self-organization of work
Istvan Karsai (East Tennessee State) -- Organization of work via the "common stomach" in social insects
Simon Garnier (NJIT) -- An ant bridge too far
Deborah Gordon (Stanford) -- Distributed algorithms in ant colonies: nestmate recognition and highway systems
Pankaj Mehta (BU) -- Learning from collective behavior in Dictyostelium populations
Nir Shavit (MIT) -- Connectomes on Demand?
Les Valiant (Harvard) -- A computational model and theory of cortex


Please register for the conference at Eventbrite.
Early registration (by Aug 10) is $100. Late registration is $150.

Schedule (Aug 18th)

09:00 - 09:05 - Organziers: Welcome

09:05 - 09:45 - Deborah Gordon [Invited] [reading]
Title: Distributed algorithms in ant colonies: nestmate recognition and highway systems.

09:45 - 10:05 - Theodore Pavlic, Sean Wilson, Ganesh Kumar, Stephen Pratt and Spring Berman [Contributed]
Title: Enzyme-inspired stochastic algorithm implementations for multi-robot teams that approximate robust social-insect behaviors.

10:05 - 10:25 - Thim Strothmann, Robert Gmyr, Christian Scheideler, Zahra Derakhshandeh, Andrea W. Richa and Rida Bazzi [Contributed]
Title: On the Feasibility of Leader Election with Self-Organizing Programmable Matter.

10:25 - 10:55 - Coffee Break

10:55 - 11:35 - Ziv Bar-Joseph [Invited]
Title: Belief propagation in bacterial food search.

11:35 - 12:15 - Jennifer Fewell [Invited]
Title: Division of labor: the organization and self-organization of work.

12:15 - 01:15 - Lunch

01:15 - 01:35 - Cengiz Pehlevan and Dmitri B. Chklovskii [Contributed] [reading1] [reading2]
Title: Similarity matching principle provides a multifunctional algorithmic theory of neural computation.

01:35 - 01:55 - Alireza Alemi, Carlo Baldassi, Nicolas Brunel and Riccardo Zecchina [Contributed] [slides] [reading]
Title: A purely local, distributed, simple learning scheme achieves near-optimal capacity in recurrent neural networks without explicit supervision.

01:55 - 02:15 - Aaron Becker, Erik D. Demaine and Sándor Fekete [Contributed] [slides]
Title: Controlling Distributed Particle Swarms with only Global Signals.

02:15 - 02:45 - Coffee Break

02:45 - 03:25 - Les Valiant [Invited]
Title: A computational model and theory of cortex.

03:25 - 04:05 - Nir Shavit [Invited]
Title: Connectomes on Demand?

04:05 - 04:30 - Discussion

04:30 - 05:30 - Poster Session

Schedule (Aug 19th)

09:00 - 09:40 - Yehuda Afek [Invited]
Title: Faster task allocation by idle ants.

09:40 - 10:00 - Nancy Lynch, Tsvetomira Radeva and Hsin-Hao Su [Contributed]
Title: Distributed Task Allocation in Ant Colonies.

10:00 - 10:20 - Daria Monaenkova, Rachel Kutner, Michael A.D. Goodisman and Daniel I Goldman [Contributed]
Title: Modeling and experiments reveal importance of workload distribution in fire ants nest excavation.

10:20 - 10:50 - Coffee Break

10:50 - 11:30 - Spring Berman [Invited]
Title: Control and Estimation Techniques for Adaptive Robotic Swarms.

11:30 - 12:10 - Pankaj Mehta [Invited]
Title: Learning from collective behavior in Dictyostelium populations.

12:10 - 01:10 - Lunch

01:10 - 01:30 - Ayesha Rasheed Khan and Fumin Zhang [Contributed] [slides]
Title: Bio-Inspired source seeking using dynamic collaboration.

01:30 - 01:50 - Pierre Fraigniaud and Emanuele Natale [Contributed] [slides]
Title: Noisy Rumor Spreading and Plurality Consensus.

01:50 - 02:30 - Istvan Karsai [Invited] [slides]
Title: Organization of work via the "common stomach" in social insects.

02:30 - 03:10 - Simon Garnier [Invited]
Title: An ant bridge too far.

03:10 - 03:40 - Coffee Break

03:40 - 05:30 - Discussion + Closing


1. Joshua Daymude, Miles Laff, Zahra Derakhshandeh and Andrea Richa. Compaction and Expansion in Self-Organizing Particle Systems. [poster]

2. Andreagiovanni Reina, Gabriele Valentini, Cristian Fernández-Oto, Marco Dorigo and Vito Trianni. A design pattern for best-of-n collective decisions. [poster] [reading]

3. James Crall, Nick Gravish, Andrew Mountcastle and Stacey Combes. Investigating division of labor and elite foraging in bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) colonies using automated tracking. [poster]

4. Bradford Greening Jr and Nina Fefferman. Effects of Topological Structure on Knowledge Building via Subgroup Interactions in Social Insect Populations.

5. El Mahdi El Mhamdi and Rachid Guerraoui. When Neurons Die. Tsvi Achler. Distributed neural networks do not necessarily require distributed weights.

6. Tsvi Achler. Distributed neural networks do not necessarily require distributed weights.

7. Yehuda Afek, Roman Kecher, and Moshe Sulamy. Recruitment Processes In Ants Task Allocation. [poster]

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: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=bda20150

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:
May 22, 2015 - Extended abstract submission deadline
June 15, 2015 - Decision notifications
August 18-19, 2015 - Workshop

Program / Organizing committee

Ziv Bar-Joseph - CMU
Anna Dornhaus - University of Arizona
Yuval Emek - Technion (Co-chair)
Amos Korman - CNRS and University of Paris Diderot
Nancy Lynch - MIT
Saket Navlakha - Salk Institute (Co-chair)


We have reserved a block of rooms at the Kendall Hotel, which is walking distance from MIT. Please use group code: BDA15. [Group promotion may expire soon.]

Travel Fellowships

We have a limited number of travel fellowships for students and post-docs. To apply, please send an email to workshop.bda@gmail.com with the following information: name, affiliation, position, advisor/host, research field (1-2 sentences), and submission # (if applicable).

Please use subject line: BDA15 travel fellowship application.

Deadline is July 14, 2015.