Friday, September 10, 2010

Functional Blueprints at ANTS 2010

Last year, I started investigating an idea of "functional blueprints" for the Morphogenetic Engineering Workshop that Rene Doursat organized. Basically, in large biological organisms (like people), a lot of the systems seem to adapt their structure in order to maintain a consistent function. For example, our vascular system adds capillaries in order to respond to oxygen demand from consistently undersupplied cells, and as more blood flows, the stretching of the vascular network leads to growth of vessels, etc, until the whole network has appropriately adapted.

We ought to be able to apply these ideas to engineering design, so that changing one part of the system causes the rest of the system to adjust in compensation. I've taken another step forward, formalizing the idea of functional blueprints, proving the possibility of using stress as an integration signal, and validating the idea with a cartoon model of modulated tissue development, in this paper, Functional Blueprints: An Approach to Modularity in Grown Systems, and this presentation.