In a short video profile SFI's Omidyar Fellows, Simon DeDeo describes his research to better understand evolutionary processes through "computations" in nature.

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“You can think of a computation, for example, as you have a problem, what are the steps you take to solve it,” he says.

In an engineered system, the problem might be looking for a particular web page in an enormous database of pages on the internet. Similarly, a group of animals might be performing their own search, trying to find food in a landscape, for example.

“The two different ways those systems solve their problems, the ways Google solves its problems and the ways herds and flocks might solve their problems, are both computations,” he says. “They’re search computations that take place very differently.”

“By mapping what you see in the natural world onto these more abstract classes, you can learn a great deal about the difference between engineered systems and evolved systems, and that gives you a deeper sense, I think, about the nature of design in evolution.”

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