April 28, 2022

Opening event: "CMMS Talks"

Prof. Gašper Tkačik from Institute of Science and Technology Austria speaks about Information Processing in Biological Systems

On 28.04.2022 Prof. Dr. Gašper Tkačik from Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST) starts the new talks series "CMMS Talks" with his presentation about "Statistical analysis and optimality of biological systems". The talks series will take place on a regular basis during the semester times within the frame of the LOEWE Project "CMMS" at FIAS.

Title: "Statistical analysis and optimality of biological systems".


Normative theories and statistical inference provide complementary approaches for the study of biological systems. A normative theory postulates that organisms have adapted to efficiently solve essential tasks and proceeds to mathematically work out testable consequences of such optimality; parameters that maximize the hypothesized organismal function can be derived ab initio, without reference to experimental data. In contrast, statistical inference focuses on the efficient utilization of data to learn model parameters, without reference to any a priori notion of biological function. Traditionally, these two approaches were developed independently and applied separately. Here, we unify them in a coherent Bayesian framework that embeds a normative theory into a family of maximum-entropy ‘‘optimization priors.’’ This family defines a smooth interpolation between a data-rich inference regime and a data-limited prediction regime. Using simple examples from neuroscience and gene regulation, we demonstrate that our framework allows one to address fundamental challenges relating to inference in high-dimensional, biological problems. 

Tkačik Group

CMMS Talks Gasper Tkacik