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Preliminary schedule, May 17th 2019

(jump to abstracts)

08.00 – 09.00    Registration

09.00 – 09.45     MILKA SARRIS, Visualizing immune cell motion and signalling during tissue damage 

09.45 – 10.30     GERARD TALAVERA, Long-Range Migratory Movements of Insects: that Unknown Smaller Majority

10.30 – 11.00     Coffee break (provided)

11.00 – 11.45     EMMANUEL FORT, Playing with Water Waves: from Wave-Particle Duality to Time Mirrors

11.45 – 12.30     ADRIANA SCHULZ, Computational Design for the Next Manufacturing Revolution

12.30 – 12.40     Company Flash Talks (Thermo Fisher, Raiffeisenbank Klosterneuburg)

12.40 – 14.00     Lunch break (provided)

14.00 – 14.45     LAWRENCE PARSONS, Neurobiological Basis of Dancing and Musical Skills

14.45 – 15.15      Participant Flash Talks

15.15 – 16.00      Coffee break (provided)

16.00 – 16.45      KATHRYN HESS BELLWALD, How to Grow Synthetic Digital Neurons

16.45 – 17.30      MARCO CUTURI, Optimal Transport: Theory, Computations and Applications

17.30 – 17.45      Closing remarks + Raffle prizes

17.45 – 18.45      Get-together at the IST pub



Kathryn Hess Bellwald (EPFL, Switzerland)
Talk Abstract: The generation of digital morphologies that reproduce the anatomical and electrical characteristics of biological neurons is a vital step towards the reconstruction and simulation of physiologically realistic brain networks, as neuronal morphologies “shape” the dynamical properties of the brain.  The principles that define how neurons take shape are still largely unknown, however.
In this talk I will describe a topology-based generative model of neurons that implicitly captures correlations of features within a growing shape, without the need for manual identification of dependencies between features. Our algorithm is based on a topological descriptor of branching morphologies that reliably categorizes neurons into morphologically distinct groups,  in combination with a small set of morphometrics.  We validated our method on both morphological and electrical properties of biological neurons.
This is joint work with a team of scientists from the Blue Brain Project, led by Lida Kanari.

Marco Cuturi (Google BrainCRESTENSAE, France)
Talk Abstract: I will provide in this talk an introduction to optimal transport theory, a field that is currently of interest for both pure mathematicians (as demonstrated by the Fields’ medals of C. Villani in 2010 and A. Figalli in 2018) as well as applied scientists working in the fields of statistics, imaging and machine learning. Starting from the perspective of the founding fathers of that theory (G. Monge, L. Kantorovich) I will describe the mathematical foundations of that tool, the computational challenges that it poses, and how a recent wave of algorithms have managed to make these ideas work at a large scale in data sciences.

Emmanuel Fort (ESPCI, France)
Talk Abstract: Water waves offer unique possibilities of wave control and observation. Slow propagation as well as macroscopic wavelengths allow easy quantitative real-time visualization. The wave propagation can be controlled with sub-wavelength precision dynamically with considerable amplitudes. In addition, wave sources can also be controlled accurately by engineering their geometry, emission spectrum and phase. Finally, the energy contained in the water waves makes it possible to create dynamic coupling between the waves and the medium or the sources, which opens up new unique possibilities of experiments. In this talk, I will illustrate this by focusing on two aspects.
The first part of my talk will focus on how a single entity endowed with a classical form of wave-particle duality emerges from the strong coupling between a source and the wave it emits. I will describe the memory-based dynamics of these dual objects and illustrate their quantum-like behavior by some examples like the analog of Young’s two-slit experiment or particles confined in an harmonic potential.
In the second part, I will focus on how it is possible to perform a time control on the wave propagation. I will introduce the concept of instantaneous time mirror which make waves relive their previous “life” using time discontinuities. I will show experimental implementations using gravity or electric controls and illustrate the use of these concepts with a time-reversed flat lens.
I will discuss analogies with other fields like optics, metamaterials, quantum mechanics, computing architecture and cosmology.

Lawrence Parsons (University of Sheffield, UK)
Talk Abstract: Dance and music experiences and skills are universal in human cultures, and are typically interactively blended in performance. They are expressed developmentally early and in stages, with nearly all individuals acquiring a basic competence, and others going on to develop high expertise. Dance, in particular, is complexly-patterned, whole-body movement entrained to others and to music.  It involves cooperation, bonding, empathy, social identity, meaningful gestures, and role playing. The adaptiveness of dance and music may be accounted for by hypotheses such as sexual selection, social bonding, coalition signalling, or group cohesion. Certain of the constituent sub-components of dance and music may also be present in analogue forms in parrot, whale, songbird, gibbon, and mouse, among other species. Music and dance may be either consequences or ‘hacks’ of biological evolution.  In either case, they are subserved by specific cortical, subcortical, and cerebellar neural architectures.

Milka Sarris (University of Cambridge, UK)
Talk Abstract: Cell movement is essential for animal development, wound healing and defence from infection. We are interested in how cell movement is guided during immune responses. We focus on neutrophils, which rapidly infiltrate sites of tissue damage and execute crucial antimicrobial functions. Our aim is to understand how the behaviour of these inflammatory cells is regulated at damage loci. The initial stages of neutrophil recruitment into damaged tissue have been well studied.However, the mechanisms underpinning the decisions of neutrophils thereafter are less understood. How do neutrophils decide how long to reside in the tissue or whether to recruit reinforcements? These single-cell decisions impact on the magnitude of the entire immune response but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. To address these questions, we exploit the zebrafish larva, whose small size and transparency make it ideal for high-resolution in vivo imaging. We record neutrophil dynamics using advanced microscopy techniques and use quantitative and statistical methods to determine how these are modulated by directional signals. We combine this with a variety of chemical, genetic and optogenetic manipulations, to functionally link molecular, cellular and tissue parameters of leukocyte guidance. Through this integrated approach, our goal is to obtain a better understanding of how inflammatory cells organise their migratory response during tissue damage.

Adriana Schulz (UW, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, USA)
Talk Abstract: Fabrication represents a new frontier for computation. Advances in subtractive and additive processes have significantly improved fabrication fidelity and speed, and have enabled general-purpose, programmable methods. Overall, these advances allow one-batch manufacturing of products with unprecedented complexity, creating the potential for a new economy of on-demand personalized production. In my talk, I argue that the field of computational design is essential for the next revolution in manufacturing. To build increasingly functional, complex and integrated products,  we need to create design tools that allow users to efficiently explore high-dimensional design spaces by optimizing over a set of performance objectives that can be measured only by expensive computations. I will discuss how to overcome these challenges by 1) developing data-driven methods for efficient exploration of these large spaces and 2) performance-driven algorithms for automated design optimization based on high-level functional specifications. I will showcase how these two concepts can be used to develop new design systems for products that combine geometry and motion, such as robots, drones and hybrid UAVs.

Gerard Talavera (Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF), Spain)
Talk Abstract: Insects undergo aerial long‐distance migrations that outnumber migrations of larger organisms, such as birds, both in abundance and biomass. These long‐range movements have important—albeit still largely unknown—implications for ecosystems. But insect migration is still a poorly understood phenomenon, partly because of the lack of field data and the technical limitations associated with tracking small, short-lived, organisms. In this talk, I will take you on a journey about how it is studying migratory insects, from the field to the lab. I will show how a multidisciplinary approach can help at tracking migratory movements, including tools on genetics, isotope ecology, ecological niche modelling, pollen metabarcoding, field ecology and citizen science. In particular I will show the example of the Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui), the most cosmopolitan of all butterflies and the one exhibiting the widest distributional range of any insect performing large-scale migratory movements. However, little information is known about the species’ global migratory routes. With a particular focus on the Palearctic-African migratory system of this species, I will describe the latest discoveries showing regular trans-Saharan migrations, that entail astonishing distances of >4000 km, similar to those of some birds. Overall, we will discuss about the scale and potential implications that insect migratory movements represent for ecosystems and nature conservation worldwide.