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Dynamical computation, unravelling the mathematical principles behind intelligence

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M S Baptista
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

This PhD project has as its grand challenge the understanding of the fundaments behind dynamical computation, the computation that allows our brain to have intelligence, or that allows populations to possess a behavioural intelligence (e.g. swarm intelligence). Dynamical computation refers to the phenomenon that is responsible for a complex network to sense the environment, simultaneously process and store information about it, and finally learn how to produce a desired output. Standard computers rely on logical gates to perform computation in order to achieve tasks. This gate provides one output for each input. The brain relies on dynamical computing, a type of illogical transformation. The same input produces different outputs. We will study dynamical computation on an externally perturbed (the input) non-autonomous dynamical network, the “illogical gate” (IG), a fundamental unit of a brain.

The first phase of this PhD proposal aims at understanding how information from an input stimulus can be stored, processed, distributed, modified, or destroyed in one IG, in order to produce a desired output, as a function of the IG parameters such as its topology. The second phase of this proposal aims at understanding how a collection of IGs can be coupled together so as to collectively be able to store, process, distribute, modify, or destroy, the information about more than one stimuli, producing a desired output. The final goal of this proposal aims at understanding the fundamental rules that allows a machine to learn how to learn and construct by itself higher levels of knowledge from lower level knowledge. For example, a computer based machine that having learned to recognise the personal pronoun "I" (by training one IG) and the word "live" (by training another IG), can itself learn how to recognise the sentence "I live" (by coupling these two IGs) and even make associations of "I live" with other meaning-related sentences such as "I can eat", "I can talk", "I can love".

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Natural and Computing Sciences, Biology, Mathematics, or Engineering. Preference will be given for students that have also expertise in one or more of the following topics: theory of Dynamical Systems, Information theory, Complex Networks, Synchronisation, Computing Reservoir. Preference will be given for students who have also expertise in one or more of the following topics: theory of Dynamical Systems, Information theory, Complex Networks, Synchronisation, Neuroscience, Ergodic Theory, Computing Reservoir, communication systems.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.


Application procedure

Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Physics, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr M da Silva Baptista ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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