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Optimal Variability

Mathematical Biology

Speaker: Leighton Izu
Location: 2112 MSB
Start time: Mon, Mar 13 2017, 3:10PM

Variability exists in all populations and there are diametrically opposed opinions about the value or curse of variability. Variability has been called the ``enemy of mass production'' and yet we celebrate diversity. Instead of forcing variability into a good or bad category with a Procrustean shoehorn we ask ``What is the optimal level of variability?'' Some applications of this perspective include the improvement of resolution in measuring devices and to determine the optimal distribution of decision times in honeybees. I’ll also discuss more recent extensions of this framework to studying optimal hedging under uncertain conditions and suggest how farmers can optimally diversify their orchards to maximize long-term productivity.