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  1. We consider disordered solids in which the microscopic elements can deform plastically in response to stresses on them. We show that by driving the system periodically, this plasticity can be exploited to train in desired elastic properties, both in the global moduli and in local “allosteric” interactions. Periodic driving can couple an applied “source” strain to a “target” strain over a path in the energy landscape. This coupling allows control of the system’s response, even at large strains well into the nonlinear regime, where it can be difficult to achieve control simply by design.

  2. Nature is rife with networks that are functionally optimized to propagate inputs to perform specific tasks. Whether via genetic evolution or dynamic adaptation, many networks create functionality by locally tuning interactions between nodes. Here we explore this behavior in two contexts: strain propagation in mechanical networks and pressure redistribution in flow networks. By adding and removing links, we are able to optimize both types of networks to perform specific functions. We define a single function as a tuned response of a single “target” link when another, predetermined part of the network is activated. Using network structures generated via such optimization,more »we investigate how many simultaneous functions such networks can be programed to fulfill. We find that both flow and mechanical networks display qualitatively similar phase transitions in the number of targets that can be tuned, along with the same robust finite-size scaling behavior. We discuss how these properties can be understood in the context of constraint–satisfaction problems.

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