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Concept: Input


It has been suggested that conversion to organic farming contributes to soil carbon sequestration, but until now a comprehensive quantitative assessment has been lacking. Therefore, datasets from 74 studies from pairwise comparisons of organic vs. nonorganic farming systems were subjected to metaanalysis to identify differences in soil organic carbon (SOC). We found significant differences and higher values for organically farmed soils of 0.18 ± 0.06% points (mean ± 95% confidence interval) for SOC concentrations, 3.50 ± 1.08 Mg C ha(-1) for stocks, and 0.45 ± 0.21 Mg C ha(-1) y(-1) for sequestration rates compared with nonorganic management. Metaregression did not deliver clear results on drivers, but differences in external C inputs and crop rotations seemed important. Restricting the analysis to zero net input organic systems and retaining only the datasets with highest data quality (measured soil bulk densities and external C and N inputs), the mean difference in SOC stocks between the farming systems was still significant (1.98 ± 1.50 Mg C ha(-1)), whereas the difference in sequestration rates became insignificant (0.07 ± 0.08 Mg C ha(-1) y(-1)). Analyzing zero net input systems for all data without this quality requirement revealed significant, positive differences in SOC concentrations and stocks (0.13 ± 0.09% points and 2.16 ± 1.65 Mg C ha(-1), respectively) and insignificant differences for sequestration rates (0.27 ± 0.37 Mg C ha(-1) y(-1)). The data mainly cover top soil and temperate zones, whereas only few data from tropical regions and subsoil horizons exist. Summarizing, this study shows that organic farming has the potential to accumulate soil carbon.

Concepts: Agriculture, Soil, Charcoal, Organic farming, Humus, Input, Crop rotation, Subsoil


Vasopressin neurons, responding to input generated by osmotic pressure, use an intrinsic mechanism to shift from slow irregular firing to a distinct phasic pattern, consisting of long bursts and silences lasting tens of seconds. With increased input, bursts lengthen, eventually shifting to continuous firing. The phasic activity remains asynchronous across the cells and is not reflected in the population output signal. Here we have used a computational vasopressin neuron model to investigate the functional significance of the phasic firing pattern. We generated a concise model of the synaptic input driven spike firing mechanism that gives a close quantitative match to vasopressin neuron spike activity recorded in vivo, tested against endogenous activity and experimental interventions. The integrate-and-fire based model provides a simple physiological explanation of the phasic firing mechanism involving an activity-dependent slow depolarising afterpotential (DAP) generated by a calcium-inactivated potassium leak current. This is modulated by the slower, opposing, action of activity-dependent dendritic dynorphin release, which inactivates the DAP, the opposing effects generating successive periods of bursting and silence. Model cells are not spontaneously active, but fire when perturbed by random perturbations mimicking synaptic input. We constructed one population of such phasic neurons, and another population of similar cells but which lacked the ability to fire phasically. We then studied how these two populations differed in the way that they encoded changes in afferent inputs. By comparison with the non-phasic population, the phasic population responds linearly to increases in tonic synaptic input. Non-phasic cells respond to transient elevations in synaptic input in a way that strongly depends on background activity levels, phasic cells in a way that is independent of background levels, and show a similar strong linearization of the response. These findings show large differences in information coding between the populations, and apparent functional advantages of asynchronous phasic firing.

Concepts: Neuron, Biology, Action potential, Axon, Dendrite, Input, Output, Osmotic pressure


BACKGROUND: Eritrean gross national income of Int$610 per capita is lower than the average for Africa (Int$1620) and considerably lower than the global average (Int$6977). It is therefore imperative that the country’s resources, including those specifically allocated to the health sector, are put to optimal use. The objectives of this study were (a) to estimate the relative technical and scale efficiency of public secondary level community hospitals in Eritrea, based on data generated in 2007, (b) to estimate the magnitudes of output increases and/or input reductions that would have been required to make relatively inefficient hospitals more efficient, and © to estimate using Tobit regression analysis the impact of institutional and contextual/environmental variables on hospital inefficiencies. METHODS: A two-stage Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) method is used to estimate efficiency of hospitals and to explain the inefficiencies. In the first stage, the efficient frontier and the hospital-level efficiency scores are first estimated using DEA. In the second stage, the estimated DEA efficiency scores are regressed on some institutional and contextual/environmental variables using a Tobit model. In 2007 there were a total of 20 secondary public community hospitals in Eritrea, nineteen of which generated data that could be included in the study. The input and output data were obtained from the Ministry of Health (MOH) annual health service activity report of 2007. Since our study employs data that are five years old, the results are not meant to uncritically inform current decision-making processes, but rather to illustrate the potential value of such efficiency analyses. RESULTS: The key findings were as follows: (i) the average constant returns to scale technical efficiency score was 90.3%; (ii) the average variable returns to scale technical efficiency score was 96.9%; and (iii) the average scale efficiency score was 93.3%. In 2007, the inefficient hospitals could have become more efficient by either increasing their outputs by 20,611 outpatient visits and 1,806 hospital discharges, or by transferring the excess 2.478 doctors (2.85%), 9.914 nurses and midwives (0.98%), 9.774 laboratory technicians (9.68%), and 195 beds (10.42%) to primary care facilities such as health centres, health stations, and maternal and child health clinics. In the Tobit regression analysis, the coefficient for OPDIPD (outpatient visits as a proportion of inpatient days) had a negative sign, and was statistically significant; and the coefficient for ALOS (average length of stay) had a positive sign, and was statistically significant at 5% level of significance. CONCLUSIONS: The findings from the first-stage analysis imply that 68% hospitals were variable returns to scale technically efficient; and only 42% hospitals achieved scale efficiency. On average, inefficient hospitals could have increased their outpatient visits by 5.05% and hospital discharges by 3.42% using the same resources. Our second-stage analysis shows that the ratio of outpatient visits to inpatient days and average length of inpatient stay are significantly correlated with hospital inefficiencies. This study shows that routinely collected hospital data in Eritrea can be used to identify relatively inefficient hospitals as well as the sources of their inefficiencies.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Statistics, Input, Economic efficiency, Output, Tobit model, Inefficiency, X-efficiency


Recent advances in deep learning and specifically in generative adversarial networks have demonstrated surprising results in generating new images and videos upon request even using natural language as input. In this paper we present the first application of generative adversarial autoencoders (AAE) for generating novel molecular fingerprints with a defined set of parameters. We developed a 7-layer AAE architecture with the latent middle layer serving as a discriminator. As an input and output the AAE uses a vector of binary fingerprints and concentration of the molecule. In the latent layer we also introduced a neuron responsible for growth inhibition percentage, which when negative indicates the reduction in the number of tumor cells after the treatment. To train the AAE we used the NCI-60 cell line assay data for 6252 compounds profiled on MCF-7 cell line. The output of the AAE was used to screen 72 million compounds in PubChem and select candidate molecules with potential anti-cancer properties. This approach is a proof of concept of an artificially-intelligent drug discovery engine, where AAEs are used to generate new molecular fingerprints with the desired molecular properties.

Concepts: DNA, Oncology, Molecule, Chemistry, Atom, Input, Output, Input/output


There are many challenges to measuring power input and force output from a flapping vertebrate. Animals can vary a multitude of kinematic parameters simultaneously, and methods for measuring power and force are either not possible in a flying vertebrate or are very time and equipment intensive. To circumvent these challenges, we constructed a robotic, multi-articulated bat wing that allows us to measure power input and force output simultaneously, across a range of kinematic parameters. The robot is modeled after the lesser dog-faced fruit bat, Cynopterus brachyotis, and contains seven joints powered by three servo motors. Collectively, this joint and motor arrangement allows the robot to vary wingbeat frequency, wingbeat amplitude, stroke plane, downstroke ratio, and wing folding. We describe the design, construction, programing, instrumentation, characterization, and analysis of the robot. We show that the kinematics, inputs, and outputs demonstrate good repeatability both within and among trials. Finally, we describe lessons about the structure of living bats learned from trying to mimic their flight in a robotic wing.

Concepts: Control theory, Bat, Robotics, Input, Output, Electric motor, Flight, Input/output


We propose and develop a Lexicocalorimeter: an online, interactive instrument for measuring the “caloric content” of social media and other large-scale texts. We do so by constructing extensive yet improvable tables of food and activity related phrases, and respectively assigning them with sourced estimates of caloric intake and expenditure. We show that for Twitter, our naive measures of “caloric input”, “caloric output”, and the ratio of these measures are all strong correlates with health and well-being measures for the contiguous United States. Our caloric balance measure in many cases outperforms both its constituent quantities; is tunable to specific health and well-being measures such as diabetes rates; has the capability of providing a real-time signal reflecting a population’s health; and has the potential to be used alongside traditional survey data in the development of public policy and collective self-awareness. Because our Lexicocalorimeter is a linear superposition of principled phrase scores, we also show we can move beyond correlations to explore what people talk about in collective detail, and assist in the understanding and explanation of how population-scale conditions vary, a capacity unavailable to black-box type methods.

Concepts: Sociology, Ratio, Linear, Cybernetics, Input, Output, Input/output


Streptavidin is a tetrameric protein with an extremely high affinity to biotin and different biotin-like peptide-tags. This characteristic causes its widespread use in biotechnology. Streptavidin is produced by the fermentation of wild type Streptomyces avidinii or by recombinant Streptomyces lavendulae, Escherichia coli, and Bacillus subtilis strains. However, little is known about the influence of power input and oxygen supply as well as feeding strategies on the production of streptavidin by S. avidinii. This paper provides a systematic analysis of the effect of rotary frequency of the stirrer, leading to a plateau-like streptavidin formation behaviour between 400 and 700min(-1). This plateau was characterized by specific power inputs between 79 and 107WL(-1) and corresponding maximal product concentrations of 6.90μM in 6 days. Lower as well as higher rotary frequencies were not beneficial. Subsequently, a linear fed-batch procedure could be established reproducibly yielding 39.20μM streptavidin in 14 days, characterized by a constant productivity of 114nMh(-1). Fed-batch procedures based on dissolved oxygen were less efficient. The linear feeding strategy presented in this paper led to the highest streptavidin concentration ever reported and exceeded the maximal product level given in the literature drastically by a factor of 8.5.

Concepts: Protein, Oxygen, Bacteria, Escherichia coli, Biotechnology, Bacillus, Bacillus subtilis, Input


A new form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device for people with severe speech impairment-the voice-input voice-output communication aid (VIVOCA)-is described. The VIVOCA recognizes the disordered speech of the user and builds messages, which are converted into synthetic speech. System development was carried out employing user-centered design and development methods, which identified and refined key requirements for the device. A novel methodology for building small vocabulary, speaker-dependent automatic speech recognizers with reduced amounts of training data, was applied. Experiments showed that this method is successful in generating good recognition performance (mean accuracy 96%) on highly disordered speech, even when recognition perplexity is increased. The selected message-building technique traded off various factors including speed of message construction and range of available message outputs. The VIVOCA was evaluated in a field trial by individuals with moderate to severe dysarthria and confirmed that they can make use of the device to produce intelligible speech output from disordered speech input. The trial highlighted some issues which limit the performance and usability of the device when applied in real usage situations, with mean recognition accuracy of 67% in these circumstances. These limitations will be addressed in future work.

Concepts: The Trial, Methodology, Input, Message, Output, Usability, Input/output, Augmentative and alternative communication


Differential equation models can be used to describe the relationships between the current state of a system of constructs (e.g., stress) and how those constructs are changing (e.g., based on variable-like experiences). The following article describes a differential equation model based on the concept of a reservoir. With a physical reservoir, such as one for water, the level of the liquid in the reservoir at any time depends on the contributions to the reservoir (inputs) and the amount of liquid removed from the reservoir (outputs). This reservoir model might be useful for constructs such as stress, where events might “add up” over time (e.g., life stressors, inputs), but individuals simultaneously take action to “blow off steam” (e.g., engage coping resources, outputs). The reservoir model can provide descriptive statistics of the inputs that contribute to the “height” (level) of a construct and a parameter that describes a person’s ability to dissipate the construct. After discussing the model, we describe a method of fitting the model as a structural equation model using latent differential equation modeling and latent distribution modeling. A simulation study is presented to examine recovery of the input distribution and output parameter. The model is then applied to the daily self-reports of negative affect and stress from a sample of older adults from the Notre Dame Longitudinal Study on Aging. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Cybernetics, Model, Differential equation, All rights reserved, Input, Structural equation modeling, Output, Input/output


Language input is necessary for language learning, yet little is known about whether, in natural environments, the speech style and social context of language input to children impacts language development. In the present study we investigated the relationship between language input and language development, examining both the style of parental speech, comparing ‘parentese’ speech to standard speech, and the social context in which speech is directed to children, comparing one-on-one (1:1) to group social interactions. Importantly, the language input variables were assessed at home using digital first-person perspective recordings of the infants' auditory environment as they went about their daily lives (N =26, 11- and 14-months-old). We measured language development using (a) concurrent speech utterances, and (b) word production at 24 months. Parentese speech in 1:1 contexts is positively correlated with both concurrent speech and later word production. Mediation analyses further show that the effect of parentese speech-1:1 on infants' later language is mediated by concurrent speech. Our results suggest that both the social context and the style of speech in language addressed to children are strongly linked to a child’s future language development.

Concepts: Present, Natural environment, Linguistics, Language, Input, Speech repetition, First-person narrative, Look Who's Talking