Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design

A. Tero, S. Takagi, T. Saigusa, K. Ito, D.P. Bebber, M.D. Fricker,K. Yumiki, R. Kobayashi, and T. Nakagaki
Science, 327(5964),439-442, 2010.

Transport networks are ubiquitous in both social and biological systems. Robust network performance
involves a complex trade-off involving cost, transport efficiency, and fault tolerance. Biological
networks have been honed by many cycles of evolutionary selection pressure and are likely to yield
reasonable solutions to such combinatorial optimization problems. Furthermore, they develop without
centralized control and may represent a readily scalable solution for growing networks in general. We
show that the slime mold Physarum polycephalum forms networks with comparable efficiency, fault
tolerance, and cost to those of real-world infrastructure networks—in this case, the Tokyo rail system.
The core mechanisms needed for adaptive network formation can be captured in a biologically
inspired mathematical model that may be useful to guide network construction in other domains.

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