OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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Biocomputation: some history and prospects

KEC 1001
Monday, May 7, 2012 - 4:00pm to 4:50pm
Speaker Information
Paul Cull
Professor Emeritus
School of EECS
Oregon State University

At first glance, Biology and Computer Science are diametrically opposed sciences. Biology deals with carbon based life forms shaped by evolution and natural selection.   Computer Science deals with electronic machines designed by engineers and guided by mathematical algorithms. Some 65 years ago, Norbert Wiener recognized that biology and computation are similar in that they are  both sciences of information, as opposed to physics  and chemistry which are more concerned with energy. In subsequent decades, there have been  fruitful reciprocal contributions from biology to computer science suggesting useful analogies and biologically inspired computational paradigms, and from computer science to biology creating new subfields like genomics and truly converting biology from an observational to an information based science.  In this overview talk, I will present some of the history and personalities who pioneered these fruitful cross-fertilizations, and suggest some possible future developments.

Speaker Bio

Paul Cull was one of the founding members of the Computer Science Department at OSU where he has worked for many years. He is now Professor Emeritus of Computer Science. Prof. Cull has a long, almost 50 year, history in biocomputation. His earliest work was on the inferring of gene linkage from human pedigrees. His thesis developed new methods for the analysis of neural networks. He has analyzed and proved theorems about a variety of population growth models. He has applied biologically inspired methods to solve a number of computational problems. For many years, he offered a course called "Cybernetics" which dealt with many of the problems and methods discussed in this talk.