Quantifying Morphological Computation

  • Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi (MPI MiS, Leipzig)
A3 01 (Sophus-Lie room)


When I am thirsty, I can grab a glas of water without thinking too much about the glas itself. When I run in the woods, I don’t have to closely monitor the ground at every point in time. As I will discuss in more detail in the talk, in both cases, the physical properties of the body (softness & friction of the skin, elasticity in the muscle-tendon system) reduce the computational load for the brain. This is known as Morphological Computation in the context of Embodied Intelligence. In my current research, I am focussing on quantifying the contribution of the physical properties of the body and its interaction with the environment (which are not controlled by the brain) to intelligence. The question is: Is it possible to determine from observations alone, how much of a behavior was actively controlled by the brain and how much of it resulted from physical processes in the body and environment?

I will present information-theoretic approaches to quantifying morphological computation and discuss two applications, namely soft robotics and biomechanics. The talk will close with a presentation of two open theoretical questions that need to be solved to make further progress in this field.