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Thermodynamics of Computation

Toward a Computational Theory of Life

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Start date/time: March 21, 2018

End date/time: March 22, 2018

Description: Computation is a physical process in the sense that any information processing must be implemented in some medium that obeys the laws of physics, and is crucially bound by the limitations this imposes. Nonetheless, theoretical computer science is largely a mathematical theory that does not make reference to the laws of physics. For example, there is no need to specify how it is possible that a Turing machine can make deterministic state transitions reliably or that it moves into a particular direction depending on its state. In electronic computers, there is not much need to worry about this, either.

However, with recent developments in many fields it is becoming apparent that computation is a useful concept far beyond the disciplinary boundaries of computer science. Perhaps the most important class of natural computers can be found in biological systems that perform computation on multiple levels. Examples at the smallest scale are kinetic proofreading, molecular sensing, and DNA replication. Further up the hierarchy are gene regulatory networks and protein-protein interaction networks that sense the cellular environment and change the internal state of the cell accordingly. At the super-cellular level there is the brain which has substantial processing capabilities that still surpass the ability of the best electronic computers. It is thus clear that ecologies, organismal communication, economies, and societies must, on some level, compute as well.

Location: The Theo Murphy Discussion meeting will be held on March 21-22, 2018, at the premises of the Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society Centre, in North Buckinghamshire, UK.


Type of event: Event

Links to Reference Materials:

Attendee list:

Agenda/Schedule: Invited speakers:

Andrew Adamatzky* - University of the West of England

Ilka Maria Axmann* - Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Carlo Baldassi* - Politecnico di Torino

Danielle S. Bassett* - University of Pennsylvania

Neil Dalchau* - Microsoft Research

Eric Deeds* - University of Kansas

Mary Dunlop* - Boston University

Renaud Jolivet* - Cern/Geneva University

Massimiliano Esposito* - Université du Luxembourg

Nick Monk* - University of Sheffield

Dan V. Nicolau* - McGill University

Tom Ouldridge* - Imperial College London

Karoline Wiesner* - Bristol University

David Wolpert* - Santa Fe