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What Tech Can Learn from the Fruit Fly’s Search Algorithm

Scientists are starting to understand that search powers much of the natural world, too.Image by Intelligent Product Solutions / YouTube

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Verse 7:7 from the Gospel of Matthew is generally considered to be a comment on prayer, but it could just as well be about the power of search. Search has become one of the key technologies of the information age, powering industry behemoths and helping us with our daily chores. But that’s not where it ends. Scientists are starting to understand that search powers much of the natural world, too.

Saket Navlakha, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, works at the “interface of theoretical computer science, machine learning, and

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