Contributions of Graph Theory and Algorithms to Animal Behaviour and Neuroscience

Submitted by admin on Tue, 19/02/2019 - 12:26
Nikolaos Smit
Date of Defense
Three-member Committee
Michael C. Dracopoulos
Dimitrios M. Thilikos (Advisor)
Dimitris Zoros

Graph theory and algorithms offer precious toolboxes for the modelling as well as the analysis of numerous phenomena in natural sciences. Here a review of the modern bibliography is presented, divided in four main chapters, giving some indications on how the concepts of these two disciplines can be used for the study of animal behaviour and neuroscience. As an exception the premier part of the first chapter provides a short discussion on the applications of graph theory on molecular biology. This choice made in order to make this work more complete and give to the readers from various backgrounds an, as much as possible, overall view of the future potential of such interdisciplinary approaches. The rest two sections of the first chapter deals with brain networks and central terms of graph theory, such as centrality, in their study. The second chapter introduces some concepts of animal sociality and refers to studies of animal cooperation, focusing on evolutionary graph and game theory. Moreover, in the last section of this chapter the collective motion of animal groups is discussed providing, into the bargain, an introduction of basic terms for the subsequent third chapter. Interdisciplinary research, aiming to unite methods from different fields, is vastly used in order to answer biological questions. Although, as it is presented below, both the fields of algorithms and biology can contribute to the elaboration of each other. Hence, the third chapter provides information about algorithms whose design has been inspired by the (collective) behaviour of animals in the nature. Finally, the fourth chapter deviates anew from the central focus of the previous chapters and makes a short introduction in the substantial controversial computational nature of cognition and by extension behaviour. Overall, one can observe that the cooperation of the above mentioned fields is extensive while the accomplished research opens new questions which can be studied only in the light of such collaborations.