Forget GPS. With no fancy maps or even brains, immune system cells can solve a simple version of the traveling salesman problem, a computational conundrum that has vexed mathematicians for decades.
The new research, which simulates how a type of white blood cell seeks and destroys infectious particles, shows how living things — be they cells, sharks or bees — successfully find a target, with only limited information and even more limited cognitive skills.
“Some search strategies are perhaps not the best, but they make the whole exploration of a space very efficient,” says theoretical ecologist Frederic Bartumeus of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research’s Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes.
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