Dr Tanya Latty
University of Sydney
Have you ever wondered how ants, which have brains smaller than a grain of sand, are able to find and ruin your picnic so quickly? Ant colonies are examples of ‘swarm intelligence’, where groups display intelligence far beyond the capacity of individuals. How is this possible? The overarching aim of Dr Latty’s research is to understand how swarm intelligent systems actually work. Her research shows that swarm intelligent systems solve problems by breaking them into simple steps, and then repeating those steps thousands of times. This is very similar to the way in which computer algorithms solve problems, and she is currently working with computer scientists, mathematicians and engineers to apply what we have learned from ants, honey bees and slime moulds toward building smarter and more efficient /computer algorithms.
Tanya has been an active participant in CSIRO’s ‘Scientists in Schools Program’, giving presentations about science to four local schools. She has also given interviews to radio programs such as ABC’s ‘Future Tense’ and ‘Real World gardener’. In 2012, Tanya was featured on the TVS television show ‘Enquiring minds’, designed to encourage children from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds to attend university.