University of Cambridge > > Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series > The Geometry of Decision-Making in Individuals and Collectives

The Geometry of Decision-Making in Individuals and Collectives

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MMVW01 - Summer School on Mathematics of Movement

In 1905 the biologist Edmund Selous wrote of his wonderment when observing a flock of starlings flying overhead “they circle; now dense like a polished roof, now disseminated like the meshes of some vast all-heaven-sweeping net…wheeling, rending, darting…a madness in the sky”. He went on to speculate “They must think collectively, all at the same time, or at least in streaks or patches — a square yard or so of an idea, a flash out of so many brains”. While the field of neuroscience has emerged to study the computational capabilities within an organism, far less is known about how social interactions connect brains together—and thus how sensing and information processing arises in such organismal collectives. Using new experimental technologies, including ‘holographic’ virtual reality for freely-moving animals, bio-mimetic robotics and artificial intelligence, I will present evidence that there exist fundamental geometric principles of spatiotemporal computation that transcend scales of biological organization; from neural dynamics to individual decision-making, and from individual decision-making to that at the scale of animal collectives. I will also show how this discovery may impact human-engineered systems, such as in the control of autonomous robots. 

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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