(1) On the 1st April, Michael Barros (Univ. Essex, UK) presented in our seminar on information theory and signal processing:
Title: Molecular Communications using Astrocytes for Boolean logic gates implementation in mammalian cells.
Abstract: In this talk we will show the use of astrocytes to realize Boolean logic gates, through manipulation of the threshold of Ca2+ ion fows between the cells based on the input signals. Through wet-lab experiments that engineer the astrocytes cells with pcDNA3.1-hGPR17 genes as well as chemical compounds, we show that both AND and OR gates can be implemented by controlling Ca2+ signals that fow through the population. A reinforced learning platform is also presented in the paper to optimize the Ca2+ activated level and time slot of input signals Tb into the gate. This design platform caters for any size and connectivity of the cell population, by taking into consideration the delay and noise produced from the signalling between the cells. To validate the efectiveness of the reinforced learning platform, a Ca2+ signalling simulator was used to simulate the signalling between the astrocyte cells. The results from the simulation show that an optimum value for both the Ca2+ activated level and time slot of input signals Tb is required to achieve up to 90% accuracy for both the AND and OR gates. Our method can be used as the basis for future Neural–Molecular Computing chips, constructed from engineered astrocyte cells, which can form the basis for a new generation of brain implants.
Bio: Dr Barros is an Assistant Professor (Lecturer) since June 2020 in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex, UK. He is also a MSCA-IF Research Fellow (part-time) at the Tampere University, Finland. He received the PhD in Computer Science at the Waterford Institute of Technology in 2016. He previously held multiple academic positions as a Research Fellow in the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland.
(2) On the 9th April, El Houcine Bergou (INRAE, France) presented in our seminar on information theory and signal processing:
Title: Stochastic Three Points Method For Unconstrained Smooth Minimization
Abstract:In this work, we consider the unconstrained minimization problem of a smooth function in a setting where only function evaluations are possible. We design a novel randomized derivative-free algorithm—the stochastic three points (STP) method—and analyze its iteration complexity. At each iteration, STP generates a random search direction according to a certain fixed probability law. Our assumptions on this law are very mild: roughly speaking, all laws which do not concentrate all measure on any halfspace passing through the origin will work. Although, our approach is designed to not explicitly use derivatives, it covers some first order methods. For instance, if the probability law is chosen to be the Dirac distribution concentrated on the sign of the gradient, then STP recovers the Signed Gradient Descent method. If the probability law is the uniform distribution on the coordinates of the gradient, then STP recovers the Randomized Coordinate Descent Method.
The complexity of STP depends on the probability law via a simple characteristic closely related to the cosine measure which is used in the analysis of deterministic direct search (DDS) methods. Unlike in DDS, where $O(n)$ ($n$ is the dimension of the problem) function evaluations must be performed in each iteration in the worst case, our method only requires two new function evaluations per iteration. Consequently, while the complexity of DDS depends quadratically on $n$, our method depends linearly on $n$.
Bio: I am a research scientist in INRAE. My research interests are in all areas that intersect with optimization, including algorithms, machine learning, statistics, and operations research. I am particularly interested in algorithms for large scale optimization including randomised and distributed optimization methods.
(3) I have a new paper to appear in the IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT):
Malcolm Egan, “Dependence Testing via Extremes for Regularly Varying Models,” Proc. IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT), (2021).