Professor James Marshall
Department of Computer Science
Professor of Theoretical and Computational Biology
Member of the Complex Systems Modelling research group
+44 114 222 1832
Full contact details
Department of Computer Science
Regent Court (DCS)
I am an interdisciplinary researcher interested in behaviour, its mechanistic bases, and its evolution. With various colleagues I apply a variety of mathematical and computational approaches to understanding how and why behaviours evolve.
I am also interested in what engineering disciplines may learn from this study. Particular research interests include collective social insect behaviour, the evolution of social behaviour, and the application of decision theory to animal behaviour. Some of my research makes use of robotics to test these ideas.
- Research interests
My research interests cover modelling of collective behaviour, particularly in social insects, evolutionary theory, decision theory, robotics, and theoretical neuroscience
- Asynchrony rescues statistically optimal group decisions from information cascades through emergent leaders. Royal Society Open Science, 10(3).
- Approximations of algorithmic and structural complexity validate cognitive-behavioral experimental results. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 16.
- Magnitude-sensitive reaction times reveal non-linear time costs in multi-alternative decision-making. PLoS Computational Biology, 18(10).
- Insect-inspired AI for autonomous robots. Science Robotics, 7(67).
- Negative feedback may suppress variation to improve collective foraging performance. PLoS Computational Biology, 18(5).
- Magnitude-sensitivity: rethinking decision-making. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
- Better tired than lost: turtle ant trail networks favor coherence over short edges. PLoS Computational Biology, 17(10). View this article in WRRO
- When less is more: Robot swarms adapt better to changes with constrained communication. Science Robotics, 6(56).
- Non-numerical strategies used by bees to solve numerical cognition tasks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1945). View this article in WRRO
- Honeybees solve a multi-comparison ranking task by probability matching. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287(1934). View this article in WRRO
- Sophisticated collective foraging with minimalist agents : a swarm robotics test. Swarm Intelligence, 14, 25-56. View this article in WRRO
- Comparison of magnitude-sensitive sequential sampling models in a simulation-based study. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 94. View this article in WRRO
- Multiscale modelling tool : mathematical modelling of collective behaviour without the maths. PLOS ONE, 14(9). View this article in WRRO
- Frequency-sensitivity and magnitude-sensitivity in decision-making : predictions of a theoretical model-based study. Computational Brain & Behavior, 1-20. View this article in WRRO
- Inhibition and Excitation Shape Activity Selection: Effect of Oscillations in a Decision-Making Circuit. Neural Computation, 31(5), 870-896. View this article in WRRO
- Quorums enable optimal pooling of independent judgements in biological systems.. eLife, 8. View this article in WRRO
- Abstract concept learning in a simple neural network inspired by the insect brain.. PLoS Computational Biology, 14(9). View this article in WRRO
- Interactions between immunotoxicants and parasite stress: Implications for host health. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 445, 120-127. View this article in WRRO
- Psychophysical Laws and the Superorganism. Scientific Reports, 8(1). View this article in WRRO
- The influence of the few: a stable ‘oligarchy’ controls information flow in house-hunting ants. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285(1872), 20172726-20172726. View this article in WRRO
- Individual Confidence-Weighting and Group Decision-Making. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 32(9), 636-645. View this article in WRRO
- Can natural selection encode Bayesian priors?. J Theor Biol, 426, 57-66.
- Collective decision-making. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 16, 30-34. View this article in WRRO
- A Drift Diffusion Model account of the semantic congruity effect in a classification paradigm. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 3(1), 77-96. View this article in WRRO
- The evolution of mutualism with modifiers. Ecology and Evolution. View this article in WRRO
- Model of the best-of-N nest-site selection process in honeybees. Physical Review E, 95(5). View this article in WRRO
- ARK: Augmented Reality for Kilobots. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2(3), 1755-1761. View this article in WRRO
- Stress-Mediated Allee Effects Can Cause the Sudden Collapse of Honey Bee Colonies.. J Theor Biol. View this article in WRRO
- A computational model of the integration of landmarks and motion in the insect central complex.. PLoS ONE, 12(2). View this article in WRRO
- Evidence for the Speed-Value Trade-Off: Human and Monkey Decision Making Is Magnitude Sensitive. Decision. View this article in WRRO
- What is inclusive fitness theory, and what is it for?. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 12, 103-108. View this article in WRRO
- Decision-making without a brain: how an amoeboid organism solves the two-armed bandit. Interface, 13(119). View this article in WRRO
- A Model for an Angular Velocity-Tuned Motion Detector Accounting for Deviations in the Corridor-Centering Response of the Bee. PLoS Computational Biology, 12(5). View this article in WRRO
- Errors in Allen's Review of Social Evolution and Inclusive Fitness Theory: An Introduction. BioScience, 66(3), 185-185.
- Decision-making and action selection in insects: inspiration from vertebrate-based theories. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 9. View this article in WRRO
- Desperately Seeking Meaning. BioScience, 65(3), 328-329.
- The Evolution of Mechanisms Underlying Behaviour. Current Zoology, 61(2), 221-225. View this article in WRRO
- Self-deception can evolve under appropriate costs. Current Zoology, 61(2), 382-396. View this article in WRRO
- Cross inhibition improves activity selection when switching incurs time costs. Current Zoology, 61(2), 242-250. View this article in WRRO
- Queller’s Separation Condition Explained and Defended. The American Naturalist, 184(4), 531-540.
- When natural selection should optimize speed-accuracy trade-offs.. Front Neurosci, 8, 73. View this article in WRRO
- Adaptive Sampling of Information in Perceptual Decision-Making. PLOS ONE, 8(11). View this article in WRRO
- A Mechanism for Value-Sensitive Decision-Making. PLOS ONE, 8(9). View this article in WRRO
- Unbiased individuals use valuable information when making decisions: a reply to Johnson and Fowler. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
- On evolutionary explanations of cognitive biases. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
- Speed-cohesion trade-offs in collective decision making in ants and the concept of precision in animal behaviour. Animal Behaviour.
- Ubiquity Symposium: Evolutionary Computation and the Processes of Life: Some Computational Aspects of Essential Properties of Evolution and Life. Ubiquity, 2013, 1:1-1:16.
- Life as Thermodynamic Evidence of Algorithmic Structure in Natural Environments. ENTROPY, 14(11), 2173-2191.
- Consistent Implementation of Decisions in the Brain. PLoS ONE, 7(9). View this article in WRRO
- Understanding the placebo effect from an evolutionary perspective. Evolution and Human Behavior.
- Do ants need to be old and experienced to teach?. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, 215(8), 1287-1292.
- Does natural selection favour the Rescorla-Wagner rule?. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 302, 39-52.
- Is optimism optimal? Functional causes of apparent behavioural biases. Behavioural Processes, 89(2), 172-178.
- Stop Signals Provide Cross Inhibition in Collective Decision-Making by Honeybee Swarms. SCIENCE, 335(6064), 108-111.
- Decision-making under uncertainty: biases and Bayesians. ANIM COGN, 14(4), 465-476.
- Group selection and kin selection: formally equivalent approaches. TRENDS ECOL EVOL, 26(7), 325-332.
- A Simple Threshold Rule Is Sufficient to Explain Sophisticated Collective Decision-Making. PLOS ONE, 6(5). View this article in WRRO
- Experience-dependent flexibility in collective decision making by house-hunting ants. BEHAV ECOL, 22(3), 535-542.
- Inclusive fitness theory and eusociality.. Nature, 471(7339), E1-E4. View this article in WRRO
- Ultimate causes and the evolution of altruism. BEHAV ECOL SOCIOBIOL, 65(3), 503-512.
- The state of Darwinian theory. BEHAV ECOL SOCIOBIOL, 65(3), 417-420.
- Swarm Cognition: An interdisciplinary approach to the study of self-organising biological collectives. Swarm Intelligence, 5(1), 3-18.
- Queller's rule ok: Comment on van Veelen 'when inclusive fitness is right and when it can be wrong'. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 270(1), 185-188.
- Environmental variability can select for optimism or pessimism. Ecology Letters, 14(1), 58-62.
- On optimal decision-making in brains and social insect colonies. J R SOC INTERFACE, 6(40), 1065-1074.
- The donation game with roles played between relatives. J THEOR BIOL, 260(3), 386-391.
- Colony-level cognition. CURR BIOL, 19(10), R395-R396.
- Mammalian choices: combining fast-but-inaccurate and slow-but-accurate decision-making systems. P R SOC B, 275(1649), 2353-2361.
- Why do house-hunting ants recruit in both directions?. NATURWISSENSCHAFTEN, 94(11), 911-918.
- Weighting waiting in collective decision-making. BEHAV ECOL SOCIOBIOL, 61(3), 347-356.
- Moving targets: collective decisions and flexible choices in house-hunting ants. Swarm Intelligence, 1(2), 81-94.
- Noise, cost and speed-accuracy trade-offs: decision-making in a decentralized system. J R SOC INTERFACE, 3(7), 243-254.
- On cost-efficiency of the global container shipping network. Maritime Policy & Management, 32(1), 15-30.
- Book ReviewThe Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Stephen Jay Gould (2002, Belknap Press.) Hardback, 1433 pages.. Artificial Life, 10(1), 113-115.
- Kin selection may inhibit the evolution of reciprocation. J THEOR BIOL, 222(3), 331-335.
- The execution kernel of RC++: RETE*, a faster RETE with TREAT as a special case. International Journal of Intelligent Games and Simulation, 2, 36-38.
- Conflicting agents: Conflict management in multi-agent systems. JASSS, 6(1).
- Viscous populations and their support for reciprocal cooperation. ARTIF LIFE, 9(3), 327-334.
- How honey bees make fast and accurate decisions. eLife, 12.
- Automated video tracking and flight analysis show how bumblebees solve a pattern discrimination task using active vision.
- Adaptive Topographies and Equilibrium Selection in an Evolutionary Game. PLOS ONE, 10(2), e0116307-e0116307.
- Generalizations of Hamilton's rule applied to non-additive public goods games with random group size. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2.
- Some Computational Aspects of Essential Properties of Evolution and Life. Nature Precedings.
- View this article in WRRO Robots as Actors in a Film: No War, A Robot Story.
- Memory and communication efficient algorithm for decentralized counting of nodes in networks. PLOS ONE, 16(11), e0259736-e0259736. View this article in WRRO
- Magnitude-sensitive reaction times reveal non-linear time costs in multi-alternative decision-making.
- MiniBee: A Minature MAV for the Biomimetic Embodiment of Insect Brain Models, Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (pp. 76-87). Springer International Publishing
- Foundations of Search: A Perspective from Computer Science In Todd PM, Hill TT & Robbins TW (Ed.), Cognitive Search: Evolution, Algorithms and the Brain MIT Press
- Search environments, representation, and encoding In Todd PM, Hills TT & Robbins TW (Ed.), Cognitive Search: Evolution, Algorithms and the Brain MIT Press
- CHAPTER NINETEEN The Dawn of a Golden Age in Mathematical Insect Sociobiology, Organization of Insect Societies (pp. 437-459). Harvard University Press
- The Dawn of a Golden Age in Mathematical Insect Sociobiology In Gadau J, Fewell J & Wilson EO (Ed.), Organization of insect societies: from genome to sociocomplexity (pp. 437-458). Harvard Univ Pr
- Computer modelling in behavioral and evolutionary ecology: whys and wherefores. In Laubichler MD & Müller GB (Ed.), Modeling biology: Structures, Behaviors, Evolution (pp. 335-354). The MIT Press
- On optimal decision making in brains and social insect colonies, Modelling Natural Action Selection (pp. 500-522). Cambridge University Press
Conference proceedings papers
- Improving collective decision accuracy via time-varying cross-inhibition. 2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Montreal, Canada, 20 May 2019 - 24 May 2019. View this article in WRRO
- Simulating Kilobots within ARGoS: models and experimental validation. Swarm Intelligence (ANTS 2018), Vol. 11172 (LNCS) (pp 176-187), 29 October 2018 - 31 October 2018. View this article in WRRO
- Quality-Sensitive Foraging by a Robot Swarm through Virtual Pheromone Trails. Swarm Intelligence (ANTS 2018), Vol. 11172 (LNCS) (pp 135-149), 29 October 2018 - 31 October 2018. View this article in WRRO
- Effects of Spatiality on Value-Sensitive Decisions Made by Robot Swarms. Springer Proceedings in Advanced Robotics, Vol. 6 (pp 461-473). Cham View this article in WRRO
- An Inexpensive Flying Robot Design for Embodied Robotics Research,. 2017 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN) (pp 4171-4178), 15 May 2017 - 19 May 2017. View this article in WRRO
- Bio-Inspired Visual Navigation for a Quadcopter using Optic Flow. AIAA Infotech @ Aerospace View this article in WRRO
- A neural model of the optomotor system accounts for ordered responses to decreasing stimulus spatial frequencies. BMC Neuroscience, Vol. 16(S1)
- SpineML and Brian 2.0 interfaces for using GPU enhanced Neuronal Networks (GeNN). BMC Neuroscience, Vol. 15(S1)
- The green brain project - Developing a neuromimetic robotic honeybee. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), Vol. 8064 LNAI (pp 362-363)
- Optimal voting in groups with convergent interests. AAAI Spring Symposium - Technical Report, Vol. SS-11-08 (pp 12-16)
- Beyond No Free Lunch: Realistic Algorithms for Arbitrary Problem Classes. 2010 IEEE CONGRESS ON EVOLUTIONARY COMPUTATION (CEC)
- Modeling UCS as a mixture of experts. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO-2009 (pp 1187-1194)
- Bayesian estimation of rule accuracy in UCS. Proceedings of GECCO 2007: Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, Companion Material (pp 2831-2834)
- UCSpv: Principled voting in UCS rule populations. Proceedings of GECCO 2007: Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (pp 1774-1781)
- A representational ecology for learning classifier systems. GECCO 2006: Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, Vol 1 and 2 (pp 1529-1536)
- What have gene libraries done for AIS?. ARTIFICIAL IMMUNE SYSTEMS, PROCEEDINGS, Vol. 3627 (pp 86-99)
- See how she runs: Towards visualising artificial Red Queen evolution. Artificial Life IX (pp 334-339)
- Simulating the evolution of ant behaviour in evaluating nest sites. ADVANCES IN ARTIFICIAL LIFE, PROCEEDINGS, Vol. 2801 (pp 643-650)
- Investigating the mechanisms underlying cooperation in viscous population multi-agent systems. MIT Press (pp 348-352)
- RC++: A rule-based language for game AI. First International Conference on Intelligent Games and Simulation
- Egocentric AI Processing for Computer Entertainment: A Real-Time Process Manager for Games. First International Conference on Intelligent Games and Simulation
- Characterisation and upgrade of the communication between overhead controllers and Kilobots
- On the suitability of the 2 x 2 games for studying reciprocal cooperation and kin selection
Software / Code
- Honeybees “cheat” on math tests: examining the use of numerosity in numerical cognition tasks.
- MuMoT Release 1.2.2.
Theses / Dissertations
- An Investigation into Kin Selection and Reciprocal Cooperation in a Viscous Population. De Montfort University.
- A memory and communication efficient algorithm for decentralized counting of nodes in networks, arXiv.
- Model of the best-of-N nest-site selection process in honeybees, arXiv.
- Approximations of Algorithmic and Structural Complexity Validate Cognitive-behavioural Experimental Results, arXiv.
- Some Computational Aspects of Essential Properties of Evolution and Life, arXiv.
- Beyond No Free Lunch: Realistic Algorithms for Arbitrary Problem Classes, arXiv.
- Asynchrony rescues statistically-optimal group decisions from information cascades through emergent leaders, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
- Negative feedback may suppress variation to improve collective foraging performance, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. View this article in WRRO
- Honey bees solve a multi-comparison ranking task by probability matching, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. View this article in WRRO
- Comment on ‘Optimal Policy for Multi-Alternative Decisions’.
- Better tired than lost: turtle ant trail networks favor coherence over short edges, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
- Quorums enable optimal pooling of independent judgements, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
- ActiveAI - active learning and selective attention for robust, transparent and efficient AI, EPSRC, 11/2019 - 10/2024, £953,584, as Co-PI
- Swarm Awareness, Government, 08/2018 - 08/2021, £226,567, as PI
- Brains on Board: Neuromorphic Control of Flying Robots, EPSRC, 12/2016 - 06/2022, £2,128,934, as PI
- Distributed Algorithms for Optimal Decision-Making (DiODe), EC - H2020, 08/2015 - 11/2020, £1,168,351, as PI
- Comparative neuroscience and computational neuroscience, Leverhulme Trust, 04/2018 - 07/2020, £72,016, as PI
- Analysing and modelling decision making in the honey bee brain, Royal Society, 03/2015 - 03/2017, £12,000, as PI
- Green Brain: Computational Modelling of the Honeybee Brain, EPSRC, 03/2013 - 08/2016, £660,561, as PI
- Optimal Collective Decision-Making in Social Insects, BBSRC, 10/2010 - 10/2012, £145,732, as PI
- ADEPT: Adaptive Dynamic Ensemble Prediction Techniques, EPSRC, 08/2008 - 07/2012, £306,386, as Co PI
- AIBACS - Social Insects, Simulated Evolution and Biologically Inspired Algorithms, EPSRC, 01/2004 - 07/2006, £127,271, as Co-PI
- Professional activities and memberships
- Head of the Complex Systems Modelling, research group
- Editorial Board, Swarm Intelligence (2017-present)
- Associate Editor: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (2013-2017)
- EPSRC Peer Review College Member (2010-present)
- Member of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Panel College (2019-present)
- Associate Editor - PLoS one - 2009-2020
- Associate Editor - PLoS Computational Biology - 2020-present
- Chief Scientific Officer at Opteran Technologies