First Idea

My first idea is to build a Physarum-inspired algorithm with Cellular Automata models than make a comparison between the simulation and the behavior of the living Physarum colony.

The first task would be to understand Physarum models of the network - Understanding beneficial network structures that Physarum polycephalum solves.

Slime molds seem to be very good at networking. They have no central information processing unit like a brain but manages to solve more complicated tasks which can not be explained through the Darwinian mechanisms of genetic mutation and natural selection. It can find the shortest path through a maze or connect different arrays of food sources in an efficient manner with low total length, yet short average minimum distance between pairs of food sources. For example in a famous study slime mold connects scattered food crumbs in a design that’s nearly identical to Tokyo’s rail system.

Research Questions:

  • What kind of communication network does this one cell organism have inside? What are the characteristics of Physarum networks?
  • How can Physarum solve some network optimization problems?
  • How can we understand Physarum and its intelligence from the biological perspective?
  • What is the physiological mechanism in Physarum that possibly accounts for this intelligence?
  • Does any biology-inspired mathematical description explain this network formation?

Research Notes

I am interested in understanding how slime mold designs high-quality networks. There seems to be no exact answer to this question. Some research suggests that the protoplasmic flow through slime molds tubular veins plays an important role in developing its networks.

"Physarum polycephalum consists of two parts a “sponge” section including distributed actin-myosin fibers, and a “tube” section made up of actin-myosin fibers. These two parts consist of a mycelial network, which acts both as an information highway transporting chemical and physical signals and as a supply network circulating nutrients and metabolites throughout the organism. The topology of this network changes as Physarum explores the neighboring environment. Many remarkable intelligent behaviors have been displayed during this process."

Physarum intelligence involves:

  • Finding the shortest path
  • Building high-quality networks
  • Adapting to changing environments
  • Memorizing and learning
  • Distributed intelligence (in the body of Physarum, there is no central information processing unit, but rather a collection of similar parts of protoplasm which creates networks with decentralized control systems.)

Physarum-inspired networking models:

Physarum-inspired algorithms examples:

Physarum-inspired artwork examples: