Month: August 2021

A sustainable strategy for Open Streets in (post)pandemic cities

Daniel Rhoads, Albert Solé-Ribalta, Marta C. González & Javier Borge-Holthoefer 
Communications Physics volume 4, Article number: 183 (2021)

Cities world-wide have taken the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to improve and expand pedestrian infrastructure, providing residents with a sense of relief and pursuing long-standing goals to decrease automobile dependence and increase walkability. So far, due to a scarcity of data and methodological shortcomings, these efforts have lacked the system-level view of treating sidewalks as a network. Here, we leverage sidewalk data from ten cities in three continents, to first analyse the distribution of sidewalk and roadbed geometries, and find that cities present an unbalanced distribution of public space, favouring automobiles at the expense of pedestrians. Next, we connect these geometries to build a sidewalk network –adjacent, but irreducible to the road network. Finally, we compare a no-intervention scenario with a shared-effort heuristic, in relation to the performance of sidewalk infrastructures to guarantee physical distancing. The heuristic prevents the sidewalk connectivity breakdown, while preserving the road network’s functionality.

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How Small Social Systems Work – From Soccer Teams to Jazz Trios and Families | Yair Neuman | Springer

Most of us are intuitively familiar with small social systems, such as families and soccer teams. Surprisingly, though, most of us are unaware of how complex these systems are or of the fact that they have a unique character distinguishing them from both populations and individuals. The current manuscript, which emerged from high-level scientific publications on the subject, aims to bridge this gap in our understanding of small social systems. The book aims to explain, illustrate, and model the unique and fascinating nature of small (social) systems by relying on deep scientific foundations and by using examples from sport, movies, music, and the martial arts. To support its friendly exposition of challenging scientific ideas, the book also discusses entertaining questions such as (1) why inviting your mother-in-law to dinner might be a challenging event, for reasons you have never considered; (2) why soccer teams should be messy in order to win; (3) why Nazis are deeply wrong in their understanding of the importance of entropy; and (4) why “panda fighters” failed in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).

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Classification of Discrete Dynamical Systems Based on Transients

Barbora Hudcová, Tomáš Mikolov
In order to develop systems capable of artificial evolution, we need to identify which systems can produce complex behavior. We present a novel classification method applicable to any class of deterministic discrete space and time dynamical systems. The method is based on classifying the asymptotic behavior of the average computation time in a given system before entering a loop. We were able to identify a critical region of behavior that corresponds to a phase transition from ordered behavior to chaos across various classes of dynamical systems. To show that our approach can be applied to many different computational systems, we demonstrate the results of classifying cellular automata, Turing machines, and random Boolean networks. Further, we use this method to classify 2D cellular automata to automatically find those with interesting, complex dynamics.
We believe that our work can be used to design systems in which complex structures emerge. Also, it can be used to compare various versions of existing attempts to model open-ended evolution (Ray (1991), Ofria et al. (2004), Channon (2006)).

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Deborah Gordon on Ant Colonies as Distributed Computers

The popular conception of ants is that “anatomy is destiny”: an ant’s body type determines its role in the colony, for once and ever. But this is not the case; rather than forming rigid castes, ants act like a distributed computer in which tasks are re-allocated as the situation changes. “Division of labor” implies a constant “assembly line” environment, not fluid adaptation to evolving conditions. But ants do not just “graduate” from one task to another as they age; they pivot to accept the work required by their colony in any given moment. In this “agile” and dynamic process, ants act more like verbs than nouns — light on specialization and identity, heavy on collaboration and responsiveness.

What can we learn from ants about the strategies for thriving in times of uncertainty and turbulence?What are the algorithms that ants use to navigate environmental change, and how might they inform the ways that we design technologies? How might they teach us to invest more wisely, to explore more thoughtfully?

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