 
Summary: A Biological Solution to a Fundamental
Distributed Computing Problem
Yehuda Afek,1
* Noga Alon,1,2
* Omer Barad,3
* Eran Hornstein,3
Naama Barkai,3
Ziv BarJoseph4
Computational and biological systems are often distributed so that processors (cells) jointly solve
a task, without any of them receiving all inputs or observing all outputs. Maximal independent
set (MIS) selection is a fundamental distributed computing procedure that seeks to elect a set of
local leaders in a network. A variant of this problem is solved during the development of the
fly's nervous system, when sensory organ precursor (SOP) cells are chosen. By studying SOP
selection, we derived a fast algorithm for MIS selection that combines two attractive features. First,
processors do not need to know their degree; second, it has an optimal message complexity
while only using onebit messages. Our findings suggest that simple and efficient algorithms
can be developed on the basis of biologically derived insights.
C
omputational and mathematical methods
