Evolution perfected brain design by maximizing its functionality while minimizing costs associated with building and maintaining it. Assumption that brain functionality is specified by neuronal connectivity, implemented by costly biological wiring, leads to the following optimal design problem. For a given neuronal connectivity, find a spatial layout of neurons that minimizes the wiring cost. Unfortunately, this problem is difficult to solve because the number of possible layouts is often astronomically large. We argue that the wiring cost may scale as wire length squared, reducing the optimal layout problem to a constrained minimization of a quadratic form. For biologically plausible constraints, this problem has exact analytical solutions, which give reasonable approximations to actual layouts in the brain. These solutions make the inverse problem of inferring neuronal connectivity from neuronal layout more tractable.

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