[talks] Nagpal from Harvard CS to speak on Friday at 3:30 pm in Friend 113 on Taming the Swarm

Scott Karlin scott at CS.Princeton.EDU
Wed Nov 20 08:51:15 EST 2013

Friday, November 22nd

3:30 PM Friend Center 113

Taming the Swarm

Prof. Radhika Nagpal

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Biological systems, from cells to social insects, get tremendous mileage 
from the cooperation of vast numbers of cheap, and limited individuals. 
Cells with identical DNA cooperate to self-assemble large and complex 
organisms, and even regenerate after damage. Large colonies of tiny ants 
cooperate to forage over vast unknown areas, move large objects, and 
achieve as a group what no single ant could ever achieve.

What would it take to create (build and program) our own artificial 
collectives of the scale and complexity that nature achieves? In this 
talk, I will discuss one of our recent and ongoing endeavors – the 
Kilobot project - which aims to create a 1024 ("kilo") robot swarm 
testbed for studying collective intelligence. Creating an autonomous 
robot collective at this scale poses many challenges, e.g. how do we 
bulk manufacture robust but low-cost robots, how do we move from 
micromanaging single robots to managing and programming a thousand 
autonomous entities? At the same time such a swarm allows us to study at 
scale many collective algorithms, inspired by engineering (coordinate 
systems), social insects (collective transport), and cells 
(self-assembly). I will talk about both the design of the Kilobot swarm 
and several algorithms we have studied using this system. A common theme 
in all of our work is understanding the global-to-local relationship: 
how complex and robust collective behavior can be systematically 
achieved from large numbers of simple agents.

Radhika Nagpal is the Kavli Professor of Computer Science at Harvard 
University and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for 
Biologically Inspired Engineering. She received her PhD degree in 
Computer Science from MIT, and spent a year as a research fellow at the 
Systems Biology Department in Harvard Medical School. At Harvard she 
leads the self-organizing systems research group and her research 
interests span computer science, robotics, and biology. She has received 
several awards, including the 2012 Radcliffe Fellowship, the 2010 Borg 
Early Career Award, an NSF Career Award, and the Microsoft New Faculty 
Fellowship Award.

Social Period following the seminar.

For inquiries, please contact the Dept. of Mechanical & Aerospace 
Engineering at 609-258-0315


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