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Mechanisms inducing parallel computation in a model of physarum polycephalum transport networks

Jones, Jeff

Mechanisms inducing parallel computation in a model of physarum polycephalum transport networks Thumbnail



© 2015 World Scientific Publishing Company. The giant amoeboid organism true slime mould Physarum polycephalum dynamically adapts its body plan in response to changing environmental conditions and its protoplasmic transport network is used to distribute nutrients within the organism. These networks are efficient in terms of network length and network resilience and are parallel approximations of a range of proximity graphs and plane division problems. The complex parallel distributed computation exhibited by this simple organism has since served as an inspiration for intensive research into distributed computing and robotics within the last decade. P. polycephalum may be considered as a spatially represented parallel unconventional computing substrate, but how can this 'computer' be programmed? In this paper we examine and catalogue individual low-level mechanisms which may be used to induce network formation and adaptation in a multi-agent model of P. polycephalum. These mechanisms include those intrinsic to the model (particle sensor angle, rotation angle, and scaling parameters) and those mediated by the environment (stimulus location, distance, angle, concentration, engulfment and consumption of nutrients, and the presence of simulated light irradiation, repellents and obstacles). The mechanisms induce a concurrent integration of chemoattractant and chemorepellent gradients diffusing within the 2D lattice upon which the agent population resides, stimulating growth, movement, morphological adaptation and network minimisation. Chemoattractant gradients, and their modulation by the engulfment and consumption of nutrients by the model population, represent an efficient outsourcing of spatial computation. The mechanisms may prove useful in understanding the search strategies and adaptation of distributed organisms within their environment, in understanding the minimal requirements for complex adaptive behaviours, and in developing methods of spatially programming parallel unconventional computers and robotic devices.


Jones, J. (2015). Mechanisms inducing parallel computation in a model of physarum polycephalum transport networks. Parallel Processing Letters, 25(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Aug 24, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 31, 2016
Journal Parallel Processing Letters
Print ISSN 0129-6264
Publisher World Scientific Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Keywords unconventional computing, slime mould, morphological adaptation, multi-agent, material computation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Electronic version of an article published as Parallel Processing Letters, 25, 2015, 10.1142/S0129626415400046 © World Scientific Publishing Company


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