Integrative Biology Laboratory
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Algorithms and data structures in the (fruit fly) brain
A fundamental challenge in neuroscience is to understand the algorithms that neural circuits have evolved to solve computational problems critical for survival. In this talk, I will describe how the olfactory circuit in the fruit fly brain has evolved simple yet effective algorithms to process and store odors. First, I will describe how fruit flies use a variant of a traditional computer science algorithm (called locality-sensitive hashing) to perform efficient similarity searches. Second, I will describe how this circuit uses a variant of a classic data structure (called a Bloom filter) to perform novelty detection for odors. In both cases, we show that tricks from biology can be translated to improve machine computation, while also raising new hypotheses about neural function.
This is joint work with Sanjoy Dasgupta, Chuck Stevens, and Timothy Sheehan.
A pizza lunch will be served.