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The Internet Science Technology

Fruit Flies Hold the Key To Faster Computing 45

hapworth writes "Dr. Ziv Bar-Joseph, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon, may have found the key to faster computing in the form of fruit flies. While computer scientists have long struggled with determining optimal communications paths in digital environments, Bar-Joseph believes the answer can be found by studying the biological make-up of fruit flies: 'Determining how to select a [Maximal Independent Set] is difficult and has been under scrutiny for many years. It turns out that fruit flies solve a similar problem. During brain development, a process called Sensory Organ Precursor [SOP] selection occurs,' he says. 'As in computer networks, some cells (SOP) in the brain will become local leaders (MIS) and convey information from the environment to neighboring cells.'"
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Fruit Flies Hold the Key To Faster Computing

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  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @06:14AM (#35596566)

    ...once they get all the bugs out of the system.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fruit flies like a banana!

  • by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @06:38AM (#35596640) Journal

    The kinds of physical processes which drive these kinds of biological solutions are good at arriving at local optima, but are unlikely to find the global optimum which is considered to be the exact solution to the problem, as soon as the size of the problem outstrips the scale of the physical processes used to solve it. OTOH, when porting the physical paradigm to the (virtual) world of computing, it is much easier to scale the now-virtual solution processes than it would be for nature to solve the larger problem. So it still could very well lead to an interesting heuristic for arriving at good approximations to the global optimum.

    • A local optimum might still be good enough. Especially if you can find it now, rather than much later.

  • by Anonymous Coward


    This really isn't news, since the article was published in January (Yehuda Afek, Noga Alon, Omer Barad, Eran Hornstein, Naama Barkai, and Ziv Bar-Joseph, "A Biological Solution to a Fundamental Distributed Computing Problem," Science, vol. 331, no. 6014 (January 14, 2011), pp. 183-185.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Finding a maximal independent set in a graph on n vertices is doable in O(n) time. Finding a maximum independent set is difficult.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximal_independent_set [wikipedia.org]

    • I didn't read the original article with full thought, but I got the impression that the key points were:

      1) an efficient distributed algorithm for a self-organizing network where each node behaves independently, with no central control


      2) even though it doesn't produce the maximum independent set, maybe its method of selecting the nodes for the independent set produces a better (closer to maximum) maximal independent set than a basic algorithm for just any maximal independent set would likely produce?


  • by garutnivore ( 970623 ) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @07:16AM (#35596826)

    Quest Title: "Fruit Flies Hold the Key To Faster Computing"


    Diplomatic route:

    1. Go to the flies.
    2. Talk them into cooperating with you. (You'll get a 75 Speech check at some point.)
    3. The flies are going to agree to cooperate but they'll ask you to gather 10 issues of "Flies Monthly" in exchange for the key. (Follow this link for the locations of the issues.)
    4. Once you get the magazines, go back to the flies.
    5. Give them the issues. They'll give you a "Key to Faster Computing."
    6. Open safe to get the "Faster Computing."

    Non-diplomatic route:

    1. Sneak on the flies.
    2. Plant live grenade.
    3. Walk away.
    4. Boom.
    5. Go back to the corpse of the flees and grab the "Key to Faster Computing."
    6. Open safe to get the "Faster Computing."

    Note: If Miss Puss is in your party, she'll eat the flies at first sight. You'll then have to wait for her to pass them and the key. Wait for about 24 hours. You'll eventually see her... hmm... do her business. Click on the business to open it, get the key. By the way, this business of hers is just a regular locker so you could use it as a convenient location to hoard stuff.

    • Ok, I followed your advise, but I'm still trying to locate the key within the debris. How big is this key anyway?

  • It's not THE key, it's a key. Assuming this pans out that is, but there are always different paths towards faster computing.
  • Inquiring minds want to know.
  • It seems this would find a maximal independent set I.e. that cannot be made larger by finding additional nodes, and not a maximum independent set, which is an independent set of greatest size.
  • Fruit Fly: "Water Cooling yo"

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