Estimating Information Exchange Performance of Engineered Cell-to-cell Molecular Communications: A Computational Approach

Colton Harper, Massimiliano Pierobon, Maurizio Magarini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Scopus citations


Biological cells naturally exchange information for adapting to the environment, or even influencing other cells. One of the latest frontiers of synthetic biology stands in engineering cells to harness these natural communication processes for tissue engineering and cancer treatment, amongst others. Although experimental success has been achieved in this direction, approaches to characterize these systems in terms of communication performance and their dependence on design parameters are currently limited. In contrast to more classical communication systems, information in biological cells is propagated through molecules and biochemical reactions, which in general result in nonlinear input-output behaviors with system-evolution-dependent stochastic effects that are not amenable to analytical closed-form characterization. In this paper, a computational approach is proposed to characterize the information exchange in these systems, based on stochastic simulation of biochemical reactions and the estimation of information-theoretic parameters from sample distributions. In particular, this approach focuses on engineered cell-to-cell communications with a single transmitter and receiver, and it is applied to characterize the performance of a realistic system. Numerical results confirm the feasibility of this approach to be at the basis of future forward engineering practices for these communication systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationINFOCOM 2018 - IEEE Conference on Computer Communications
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781538641286
StatePublished - Oct 8 2018
Event2018 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2018 - Honolulu, United States
Duration: Apr 15 2018Apr 19 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE INFOCOM
ISSN (Print)0743-166X


Other2018 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Molecular Communication
  • Mutual Information
  • Stochastic Simulation
  • Synthetic Biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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