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The emergence and scaling of division of labor in insect societies

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Division of labor, whereby different group members perform different functions, is a fundamental attribute of sociality. It appears across social systems, from simple cooperative groups to complex eusocial colonies. A core challenge in sociobiology is to explain how patterns of

Division of labor, whereby different group members perform different functions, is a fundamental attribute of sociality. It appears across social systems, from simple cooperative groups to complex eusocial colonies. A core challenge in sociobiology is to explain how patterns of collective organization are generated. Theoretical models propose that division of labor self-organizes, or emerges, from interactions among group members and the environment; division of labor is also predicted to scale positively with group size. I empirically investigated the emergence and scaling of division of labor in evolutionarily incipient groups of sweat bees and in eusocial colonies of harvester ants. To test whether division of labor is an emergent property of group living during early social evolution, I created de novo communal groups of the normally solitary sweat bee Lasioglossum (Ctenonomia) NDA-1. A division of labor repeatedly arose between nest excavation and guarding tasks; results were consistent with hypothesized effects of spatial organization and intrinsic behavioral variability. Moreover, an experimental increase in group size spontaneously promoted higher task specialization and division of labor. Next, I examined the influence of colony size on division of labor in larger, more integrated colonies of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. Division of labor scaled positively with colony size in two contexts: during early colony ontogeny, as colonies grew from tens to hundreds of workers, and among same-aged colonies that varied naturally in size. However, manipulation of colony size did not elicit a short-term response, suggesting that the scaling of division of labor in P. californicus colonies is a product of functional integration and underlying developmental processes, rather than a purely emergent epiphenomenon. This research provides novel insights into the organization of work in insect societies, and raises broader questions about the role of size in sociobiology.

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2011

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Incorporating auditory models in speech/audio applications

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Following the success in incorporating perceptual models in audio coding algorithms, their application in other speech/audio processing systems is expanding. In general, all perceptual speech/audio processing algorithms involve minimization of an objective function that directly/indirectly incorporates properties of human perception.

Following the success in incorporating perceptual models in audio coding algorithms, their application in other speech/audio processing systems is expanding. In general, all perceptual speech/audio processing algorithms involve minimization of an objective function that directly/indirectly incorporates properties of human perception. This dissertation primarily investigates the problems associated with directly embedding an auditory model in the objective function formulation and proposes possible solutions to overcome high complexity issues for use in real-time speech/audio algorithms. Specific problems addressed in this dissertation include: 1) the development of approximate but computationally efficient auditory model implementations that are consistent with the principles of psychoacoustics, 2) the development of a mapping scheme that allows synthesizing a time/frequency domain representation from its equivalent auditory model output. The first problem is aimed at addressing the high computational complexity involved in solving perceptual objective functions that require repeated application of auditory model for evaluation of different candidate solutions. In this dissertation, a frequency pruning and a detector pruning algorithm is developed that efficiently implements the various auditory model stages. The performance of the pruned model is compared to that of the original auditory model for different types of test signals in the SQAM database. Experimental results indicate only a 4-7% relative error in loudness while attaining up to 80-90 % reduction in computational complexity. Similarly, a hybrid algorithm is developed specifically for use with sinusoidal signals and employs the proposed auditory pattern combining technique together with a look-up table to store representative auditory patterns. The second problem obtains an estimate of the auditory representation that minimizes a perceptual objective function and transforms the auditory pattern back to its equivalent time/frequency representation. This avoids the repeated application of auditory model stages to test different candidate time/frequency vectors in minimizing perceptual objective functions. In this dissertation, a constrained mapping scheme is developed by linearizing certain auditory model stages that ensures obtaining a time/frequency mapping corresponding to the estimated auditory representation. This paradigm was successfully incorporated in a perceptual speech enhancement algorithm and a sinusoidal component selection task.

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2011

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Smooth surfaces for video game development

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The video game graphics pipeline has traditionally rendered the scene using a polygonal approach. Advances in modern graphics hardware now allow the rendering of parametric methods. This thesis explores various smooth surface rendering methods that can be integrated into the

The video game graphics pipeline has traditionally rendered the scene using a polygonal approach. Advances in modern graphics hardware now allow the rendering of parametric methods. This thesis explores various smooth surface rendering methods that can be integrated into the video game graphics engine. Moving over to parametric or smooth surfaces from the polygonal domain has its share of issues and there is an inherent need to address various rendering bottlenecks that could hamper such a move. The game engine needs to choose an appropriate method based on in-game characteristics of the objects; character and animated objects need more sophisticated methods whereas static objects could use simpler techniques. Scaling the polygon count over various hardware platforms becomes an important factor. Much control is needed over the tessellation levels, either imposed by the hardware limitations or by the application, to be able to adaptively render the mesh without significant loss in performance. This thesis explores several methods that would help game engine developers in making correct design choices by optimally balancing the trade-offs while rendering the scene using smooth surfaces. It proposes a novel technique for adaptive tessellation of triangular meshes that vastly improves speed and tessellation count. It develops an approximate method for rendering Loop subdivision surfaces on tessellation enabled hardware. A taxonomy and evaluation of the methods is provided and a unified rendering system that provides automatic level of detail by switching between the methods is proposed.

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2011

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A P-value based approach for phase II profile monitoring

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A P-value based method is proposed for statistical monitoring of various types of profiles in phase II. The performance of the proposed method is evaluated by the average run length criterion under various shifts in the intercept, slope and error

A P-value based method is proposed for statistical monitoring of various types of profiles in phase II. The performance of the proposed method is evaluated by the average run length criterion under various shifts in the intercept, slope and error standard deviation of the model. In our proposed approach, P-values are computed at each level within a sample. If at least one of the P-values is less than a pre-specified significance level, the chart signals out-of-control. The primary advantage of our approach is that only one control chart is required to monitor several parameters simultaneously: the intercept, slope(s), and the error standard deviation. A comprehensive comparison of the proposed method and the existing KMW-Shewhart method for monitoring linear profiles is conducted. In addition, the effect that the number of observations within a sample has on the performance of the proposed method is investigated. The proposed method was also compared to the T^2 method discussed in Kang and Albin (2000) for multivariate, polynomial, and nonlinear profiles. A simulation study shows that overall the proposed P-value method performs satisfactorily for different profile types.

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2013

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Small molecule detection by surface plasmon resonance: improvements in sensitivity and kinetic measurement

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Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) has emerged as a popular technique for elucidating subtle signals from biological events in a label-free, high throughput environment. The efficacy of conventional SPR sensors, whose signals are mass-sensitive, diminishes rapidly with the size of the

Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) has emerged as a popular technique for elucidating subtle signals from biological events in a label-free, high throughput environment. The efficacy of conventional SPR sensors, whose signals are mass-sensitive, diminishes rapidly with the size of the observed target molecules. The following work advances the current SPR sensor paradigm for the purpose of small molecule detection. The detection limits of two orthogonal components of SPR measurement are targeted: speed and sensitivity. In the context of this report, speed refers to the dynamic range of measured kinetic rate constants, while sensitivity refers to the target molecule mass limitation of conventional SPR measurement. A simple device for high-speed microfluidic delivery of liquid samples to a sensor surface is presented to address the temporal limitations of conventional SPR measurement. The time scale of buffer/sample switching is on the order of milliseconds, thereby minimizing the opportunity for sample plug dispersion. The high rates of mass transport to and from the central microfluidic sensing region allow for SPR-based kinetic analysis of binding events with dissociation rate constants (kd) up to 130 s-1. The required sample volume is only 1 μL, allowing for minimal sample consumption during high-speed kinetic binding measurement. Charge-based detection of small molecules is demonstrated by plasmonic-based electrochemical impedance microscopy (P-EIM). The dependence of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) on surface charge density is used to detect small molecules (60-120 Da) printed on a dextran-modified sensor surface. The SPR response to an applied ac potential is a function of the surface charge density. This optical signal is comprised of a dc and an ac component, and is measured with high spatial resolution. The amplitude and phase of local surface impedance is provided by the ac component. The phase signal of the small molecules is a function of their charge status, which is manipulated by the pH of a solution. This technique is used to detect and distinguish small molecules based on their charge status, thereby circumventing the mass limitation (~100 Da) of conventional SPR measurement.

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2013

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Conveying controversial science: Sam Harris's "The Moral Landscape" and popular science communication

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The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are understudied in the academic literature. For this doctoral dissertation, I utilize Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape, a general audience science book on the particularly thorny topic of neuroscientific approaches to morality, as a case-study to explore the possibility of using general audience science books as models for science communication more broadly. I conduct a literary analysis of the text that delimits the scope of its project, its intended audience, and the domains of science to be communicated. I also identify seven literary aspects of the text: three positive aspects that facilitate clarity and four negative aspects that interfere with lay public engagement. I conclude that The Moral Landscape relies on an assumed knowledge base and intuitions of its audience that cannot reasonably be expected of lay audiences; therefore, it cannot properly be construed as popular science communication. It nevertheless contains normative lessons for the broader science project, both in literary aspects to be salvaged and literary aspects and concepts to consciously be avoided and combated. I note that The Moral Landscape's failings can also be taken as an indication that typical descriptions of science communication offer under-detailed taxonomies of both audiences for science communication and the varieties of science communication aimed at those audiences. Future directions of study include rethinking appropriate target audiences for science literacy projects and developing a more discriminating taxonomy of both science communication and lay publics.

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2013

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Transmission expansion planning for large power systems

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Transmission expansion planning (TEP) is a complex decision making process that requires comprehensive analysis to determine the time, location, and number of electric power transmission facilities that are needed in the future power grid. This dissertation investigates the topic of

Transmission expansion planning (TEP) is a complex decision making process that requires comprehensive analysis to determine the time, location, and number of electric power transmission facilities that are needed in the future power grid. This dissertation investigates the topic of solving TEP problems for large power systems. The dissertation can be divided into two parts. The first part of this dissertation focuses on developing a more accurate network model for TEP study. First, a mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) based TEP model is proposed for solving multi-stage TEP problems. Compared with previous work, the proposed approach reduces the number of variables and constraints needed and improves the computational efficiency significantly. Second, the AC power flow model is applied to TEP models. Relaxations and reformulations are proposed to make the AC model based TEP problem solvable. Third, a convexified AC network model is proposed for TEP studies with reactive power and off-nominal bus voltage magnitudes included in the model. A MILP-based loss model and its relaxations are also investigated. The second part of this dissertation investigates the uncertainty modeling issues in the TEP problem. A two-stage stochastic TEP model is proposed and decomposition algorithms based on the L-shaped method and progressive hedging (PH) are developed to solve the stochastic model. Results indicate that the stochastic TEP model can give a more accurate estimation of the annual operating cost as compared to the deterministic TEP model which focuses only on the peak load.

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2013

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Evaluation of online teacher and student materials for the Framework for K-12 Science Education: science and engineering crosscutting concepts

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The National Research Council developed and published the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a new set of concepts that many states were planning on adopting. Part of this new endeavor included a set of science and engineering crosscutting concepts to

The National Research Council developed and published the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a new set of concepts that many states were planning on adopting. Part of this new endeavor included a set of science and engineering crosscutting concepts to be incorporated into science materials and activities, a first in science standards history. With the recent development of the Framework came the arduous task of evaluating current lessons for alignment with the new crosscutting concepts. This study took on that task in a small, yet important area of available lessons on the internet. Lessons, to be used by K-12 educators and students, were produced by different organizations and research efforts. This study focused specifically on Earth science lessons as they related to earthquakes. To answer the question as to the extent current and available lessons met the new crosscutting concepts; an evaluation rubric was developed and used to examine teacher and student lessons. Lessons were evaluated on evidence of the science, engineering and application of the engineering for each of the seven crosscutting concepts in the Framework. Each lesson was also evaluated for grade level appropriateness to determine if the lesson was suitable for the intended grade level(s) designated by the lesson. The study demonstrated that the majority of lesson items contained science applications of the crosscutting concepts. However, few contained evidence of engineering applications of the crosscutting concepts. Not only was there lack of evidence for engineering examples of the crosscutting concepts, but a lack of application engineering concepts as well. To evaluate application of the engineering concepts, the activities were examined for characteristics of the engineering design process. Results indicated that student activities were limited in both the nature of the activity and the quantity of lessons that contained activities. The majority of lessons were found to be grade appropriate. This study demonstrated the need to redesign current lessons to incorporate more engineering-specific examples from the crosscutting concepts. Furthermore, it provided evidence the current model of material development was out dated and should be revised to include engineering concepts to meet the needs of the new science standards.

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2013

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1-dimensional zinc oxide nanomaterial growth and solar cell applications

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Zinc oxide (ZnO) has attracted much interest during last decades as a functional material. Furthermore, ZnO is a potential material for transparent conducting oxide material competing with indium tin oxide (ITO), graphene, and carbon nanotube film. It has been known

Zinc oxide (ZnO) has attracted much interest during last decades as a functional material. Furthermore, ZnO is a potential material for transparent conducting oxide material competing with indium tin oxide (ITO), graphene, and carbon nanotube film. It has been known as a conductive material when doped with elements such as indium, gallium and aluminum. The solubility of those dopant elements in ZnO is still debatable; but, it is necessary to find alternative conducting materials when their form is film or nanostructure for display devices. This is a consequence of the ever increasing price of indium. In addition, a new generation solar cell (nanostructured or hybrid photovoltaics) requires compatible materials which are capable of free standing on substrates without seed or buffer layers and have the ability introduce electrons or holes pathway without blocking towards electrodes. The nanostructures for solar cells using inorganic materials such as silicon (Si), titanium oxide (TiO2), and ZnO have been an interesting topic for research in solar cell community in order to overcome the limitation of efficiency for organic solar cells. This dissertation is a study of the rational solution-based synthesis of 1-dimentional ZnO nanomaterial and its solar cell applications. These results have implications in cost effective and uniform nanomanufacturing for the next generation solar cells application by controlling growth condition and by doping transition metal element in solution.

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2012

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Examination of the state-dependency and consequences of foraging in a low-energy system, the Gila monster, Heloderma suspectum

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Foraging has complex effects on whole-organism homeostasis, and there is considerable evidence that foraging behavior is influenced by both environmental factors (e.g., food availability, predation risk) and the physiological condition of an organism. The optimization of foraging behavior to balance

Foraging has complex effects on whole-organism homeostasis, and there is considerable evidence that foraging behavior is influenced by both environmental factors (e.g., food availability, predation risk) and the physiological condition of an organism. The optimization of foraging behavior to balance costs and benefits is termed state-dependent foraging (SDF) while behavior that seeks to protect assets of fitness is termed the asset protection principle (APP). A majority of studies examining SDF have focused on the role that energy balance has on the foraging of organisms with high metabolism and high energy demands ("high-energy systems" such as endotherms). In contrast, limited work has examined whether species with low energy use ("low-energy systems" such as vertebrate ectotherms) use an SDF strategy. Additionally, there is a paucity of evidence demonstrating how physiological and environmental factors other than energy balance influence foraging behavior (e.g. hydration state and free-standing water availability). Given these gaps in our understanding of SDF behavior and the APP, I examined the state-dependency and consequences of foraging in a low-energy system occupying a resource-limited environment - the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum, Cope 1869). In contrast to what has been observed in a wide variety of taxa, I found that Gila monsters do not use a SDF strategy to manage their energy reserves and that Gila monsters do not defend their energetic assets. However, hydration state and free-standing water availability do affect foraging behavior of Gila monsters. Additionally, as Gila monsters become increasingly dehydrated, they reduce activity to defend hydration state. The SDF behavior of Gila monsters appears to be largely driven by the fact that Gila monsters must separately satisfy energy and water demands with food and free-standing water, respectively, in conjunction with the timescale within which Gila monsters balance their energy and water budgets (supra-annually versus annually, respectively). Given these findings, the impact of anticipated changes in temperature and rainfall patterns in the Sonoran Desert are most likely going to pose their greatest risks to Gila monsters through the direct and indirect effects on water balance.

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2014