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  1. Convolutional neural networks (CNN) are an emerging technique in modeling neural circuits and have been shown to converge to biologically plausible functionality in cortical circuits via task-optimization. This functionality has not been observed in CNN models of retinal circuits via task-optimization. We sought to observe this convergence in retinal circuits by designing a biologically inspired CNN model of a motion-detection retinal circuit and optimizing it to solve a motion-classification task. The learned weights and parameters indicated that the CNN converged to direction-sensitive ganglion and amacrine cells, cell types that have been observed in biology, and provided evidence that task-optimization ismore »a fair method of building retinal models. The analysis used to understand the functionality of our CNN also indicates that biologically constrained deep learning models are easier to reason about their underlying mechanisms than traditional deep learning models.« less
  2. We investigate the importance of quorum sensing in the success of house-hunting of emigrating Temnothorax ant colonies. Specifically, we show that the absence of the quorum sensing mechanism leads to failure of consensus during emigrations. We tackle this problem through the lens of distributed computing by viewing it as a natural distributed consensus algorithm. We develop an agent-based model of the house-hunting process, and use mathematical tools such as conditional probability, concentration bounds and Markov mixing time to rigorously prove the negative impact of not employing the quorum sensing mechanism on emigration outcomes. Our main result is a high probabilitymore »bound for failure of consensus without quorum sensing in a two-new-nest environment, which we further extend to the general multiple-new-nest environments. We also show preliminary evidence that appropriate quorum sizes indeed help with consensus during emigrations. Our work provides theoretical foundations to analyze why Temnothorax ants evolved to utilize the quorum rule in their house-hunting process.« less