A feedback control principle common to several biological and engineered systems

Suen, Jonathan Y, Navlakha, Saket (March 2022) A feedback control principle common to several biological and engineered systems. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 19 (188). p. 20210711. ISSN 1742-5662

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URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/35232277
DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0711


Feedback control is used by many distributed systems to optimize behaviour. Traditional feedback control algorithms spend significant resources to constantly sense and stabilize a continuous control variable of interest, such as vehicle speed for implementing cruise control, or body temperature for maintaining homeostasis. By contrast, discrete-event feedback (e.g. a server acknowledging when data are successfully transmitted, or a brief antennal interaction when an ant returns to the nest after successful foraging) can reduce costs associated with monitoring a continuous variable; however, optimizing behaviour in this setting requires alternative strategies. Here, we studied parallels between discrete-event feedback control strategies in biological and engineered systems. We found that two common engineering rules-additive-increase, upon positive feedback, and multiplicative-decrease, upon negative feedback, and multiplicative-increase multiplicative-decrease-are used by diverse biological systems, including for regulating foraging by harvester ant colonies, for maintaining cell-size homeostasis, and for synaptic learning and adaptation in neural circuits. These rules support several goals of these systems, including optimizing efficiency (i.e. using all available resources); splitting resources fairly among cooperating agents, or conversely, acquiring resources quickly among competing agents; and minimizing the latency of responses, especially when conditions change. We hypothesize that theoretical frameworks from distributed computing may offer new ways to analyse adaptation behaviour of biology systems, and in return, biological strategies may inspire new algorithms for discrete-event feedback control in engineering.

Item Type: Paper
Subjects: bioinformatics
bioinformatics > computational biology > algorithms
organism description > animal
bioinformatics > computational biology
organism description > animal > insect
Publication Type > review
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Navlakha lab
SWORD Depositor: CSHL Elements
Depositing User: CSHL Elements
Date: March 2022
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2022 15:28
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2024 15:27
PMCID: PMC8889180
URI: https://repository.cshl.edu/id/eprint/40551

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