Two (Too?) Simple Quantum Complexities: Suppression and Entanglement

Suppression: In very low energy collisions, reflection of the incident flux occurs at long range, even when the interaction forces are purely attractive. Picture an atomic skier sliding very slowly downhill toward the edge of an abyss, but then bounced backward uphill! Quantum suppression has long...

Genetic Representation and Artificial Life

The production of autonomously functioning, integrated, complex networks of physico-chemical processes requires the creation of some mode of informational representation in molecular form (genes), not only as a matter of fact but also as the only plausible way of designing such systems to achieve control...

A Typology of Convergences: Towards a Unified Theory of Cultural Transmission

For the past decade, in the National Book Critics Circle Award winning Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences, and in the ongoing contest that book spawned on the McSweeneys website (http://www.mcsweeneys.net/books/everythingthatrises.contest.html), Lawrence Weschler has been exploring the ways...

Bottom Up Assembly of Minimal Life

When seeking to assemble minimal life from the bottom up, the critical properties of life apparently emerge from the interconnected functions of three subsystems: information, metabolism and container. Such interconnected supramolecular systems, so-called protocells, are under the right circumstances...

The Future of Human Life Spans, A Demographic Perspective

Since the 18th C, human life spans have increased globally from a life expectancy at birth (LE0) of 25-40y, to >80y in healthy countries; the LE70 has also more than doubled (1-3). In essence the J-shaped mortality curve has shifted to progressively lower levels with minor changes in the accelerating...

Learning Probability Distributions over Trees

Each human language contains an unbounded number of different sentences. How can something so large and complex possibly be learnt? Over the past decade and a half we've figured out how to define probability distributions over grammars and the linguistic structures they generate, opening up the possibility...

Understanding Variability in the Production of Grammatical Morphemes

Language acquisition researchers have long observed that children’s early use of grammatical morphemes is highly variable. It is generally thought that this is due to incomplete syntactic or semantic representations. However, recent crosslinguistic research has found that the variable production of grammatical...

From Democratic Consensus to Cannibalistic Hordes: The Principles of Collective Animal Behavior

Collective organization is everywhere, both around us and within us. Our brains are composed of billions of interconnected cells communicating with chemical and electrical signals. We are integrated in our own collective human society. Elsewhere in the natural world hundreds of thousands of blind army...

Wicked Problems, Novel Modes of Behavior, and the Power of Pedagogical Design

Elizabeth Ellsworth (Associate Provost for Curriculum and Learning and Professor of Media Studies, The New School, New York) There is a growing interest in pedagogy as an expanded cultural practice capable of fostering new ways of thinking and knowing. In this talk, Elllsworth reframes pedagogy as a...

Contribution Propagation: A Method for Explaining Classifications in Hierarchical Networks

Machine learning methods offer tools to solve problems that might be too difficult for the computer user to solve directly. Many of these methods attempt to learn a mapping from a dataset to a set of "classes" in order to predict meaningful information about the data (for example, the identity of the...

When the Internet Attacks: The Impact of Blogs and Social Media on Science and Scientists

The purpose of this talk is to relate the major changes currently underway - major changes being forced by social media - in the way that science is communicated and evaluated. The past several years have seen the gradual growth of Science Online, an informal network of scientists and science journalists...

The Mechanics and Population Genetics of Adaptation in Two Microbial Systems

Assistant Professor of Biology; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Center for Computational Molecular Biology, Brown University

An Evolutionary Model of Bounded Rationality and Intelligence

In a diverse population of individuals who face binary choices and observe environmental characteristics correlated with their reproductive success, we show that pattern-matching, randomization, and Bayesian decision-making emerge through the forces of natural selection. These behaviors explain certain...

Can Financial Engineering Cure Cancer, Solve the Energy Crisis, and Stop Global Warming?

Lessons from the financial crisis could lead to solutions far afield of financial markets. Andrew Lo will provide an overview of the crisis, describe the role mathematics played, and suggest how a deeper understanding of human nature may allow us to focus the power of global financial markets on key...

Machine Learning for Monte Carlo and Blackbox Optimization

In this talk I explore the relationship between Machine-Learning (ML), Monte Carlo Optimization of a parametrized integral (MCO), and "blackbox" optimization (BO — the kind of optimization one typically addresses with GA's or simulated annealing). First, I show how to transform any BO problem into an...

Dynamical DNA: A Possible Metric of Complexity?

A longstanding challenge has been to have a metric of complexity. This discussion will start from the consideration of continuous dynamical systems characterised by an action. A proposal will be made of the fundamental metric of the dynamical system that is decomposed into a hierarchy specified by...

How to Understand Pictures (If You are a Computer)

Enabling computers to understand images remains one of the hardest open problems in artificial intelligence. No machine vision system comes close to matching human ability at identifying the contents of images or visual scenes or at recognizing similarity between different scenes, even though such abilities...

Developing a Parsimonious Theoretical Model to Explain Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Diversity in a Tropical Forest Tree Community

Community ecology aims to develop theoretical models that can predict empirically measured patterns of biodiversity. In tropical forest tree communities, different biodiversity patterns can be explained by different theoretical models, but in some cases these models appear mutually inconsistent: for...

Genetic Robustness and Modularity

The evolutionary plasticity of an organism depends on its ability to circumvent, through the exploration of novel genetic function, the effects of lethal mutational onslaught. We have addressed the extent of mutational robustness by genome wide dosage suppressor analysis of 55 conditional lethal gene...

Computation in Natural Systems

2011 April Science Board Symposium