New research explains why so many biological networks, including the human brain (a network of neurons), exhibit a hierarchical structure, and will improve attempts to create artificial intelligence.
The study, published in PLOS Computational Biology, demonstrates this by showing that the evolution of hierarchy – a simple system of ranking – in biological networks may arise because of the costs associated with network connections.
Like large businesses, many biological networks are hierarchically organised, such as gene, protein, neural, and metabolic networks. This means they have separate units that can each be repeatedly divided into smaller and smaller subunits. For example, the human brain has separate areas for motor control and tactile processing, and each of these areas consist of sub-regions that govern different parts of the body.
But why do so many biological networks evolve to be hierarchical? The results of this paper suggest that hierarchy evolves not because it produces more efficient networks, but instead because hierarchically wired networks have fewer connections. This is because connections in biological networks are expensive – they have to be built, housed, maintained, etc. – and there is therefore an evolutionary pressure to reduce the number of connections.
In addition to shedding light on the emergence of hierarchy across the many domains in which it appears, these findings may also accelerate future research into evolving more complex, intelligent computational brains in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics.
The University of Wyoming is a land-grant university located in Laramie, Wyoming, situated on Wyoming’s high Laramie Plains, at an elevation of 7,200 feet (2194 m), between the Laramie and Snowy Range mountains.
It is known as UW (often pronounced “U-Dub“) to people close to the university. The university was founded in March 1886, four years before the territory was admitted as the 44th state, and opened in September 1887. The University of Wyoming is unusual in that its location within the state is written into the state’s constitution. The university also offers outreach education in communities throughout Wyoming and online.
The University of Wyoming consists of seven colleges: agriculture and natural resources, arts and sciences, business, education, engineering and applied sciences, health sciences, and law. The university offers over 190 undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs including Doctor of Pharmacy and Juris Doctor. In the top 15 percent of the country’s four-year colleges, the University of Wyoming was featured in the 2011 Princeton Review Best 373 Colleges.
In addition to on-campus classes in Laramie, the university’s Outreach School offers more than 30 degree, certificate and endorsement programs to distance learners across the state and beyond. These programs are delivered through the use of technology, such as online and video conferencing classes. The Outreach School has nine regional centers across the state, with several on community college campuses, to give Wyoming residents access to a university education without relocating to Laramie.
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