Defining games on the medium of a one-cell organism

The main vegetative phase of Physarum polycephalum – the plasmodium – is very sensible to the environment. Its behaviour is intelligent and can be controlled by different locations of chemical signals that attract and repel it. It can solve many tasks and be considered one of the biological models of natural computation. Crucially, however, the plasmodium is not a deterministic system, as its behaviour is not algorithmic – it can change its past decisions when looking for food. Designing a plasmodium chip therefore requires mathematics without conventional algorithms.

Having first shown that true slime mould is a natural transition system that can be considered a biological model for concurrent games, a group of researchers have introduced the notion of context-based games as a strong extension of concurrent games, and defined games on the medium of a one-cell organism, for the first time.

They presented this research at BICT 2014, the 8th International Conference on Bio-inspired Information and Communications Technologies, where they were awarded the Best Paper Award.

In their paper, Andrew Schumann and Krzysztof Pancerz from the University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszow, Poland, together with Andrew Adamatzky from the International Center of Unconventional Computing at UWE in Bristol, UK, and Martin Grube from the Institute of Plant Sciences at the University of Graz in Poland, explain that context-based games are ‘a generalization of incomplete information games, concurrent games, repeated games, reflexive games, and some other modern approaches to games.’ They can be regarded as fundamentals of bio-inspired game theory, and provide a simple example of non-well-founded mathematics that can be applied in programming the processors on any predictable behavioral systems, such as plasmodia.

In the future, they intend to design an abstract processor on plasmodia by using non-well-founded mathematics that has been illustrated by context-based games.

For more details, read their fascinating paper in full.