Imitation of Life: How Biology Is Inspiring Computing

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Overview

"As computers and the tasks they perform become increasingly complex, researchers are looking to nature - as model and as metaphor - for inspiration. The organization and behavior of biological organisms present scientists with an invitation to reinvent computing for the complex tasks of the future. In Imitation of Life Nancy Forbes surveys the emerging field of biologically inspired computing, looking at some of the most impressive and influential examples of this fertile synergy." "Forbes points out that the influence of biology on computing goes back to the early days of computer science - John von Neumann, the architect of the first digital computer, used the human brain as the model for his design. Inspired by von Neumann and other early visionaries, as well as by her work on the Ultrascale Computing project at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Forbes describes the exciting potential of these revolutionary new technologies. She identifies three strains of biologically inspired computing: the use of biology as a metaphor or inspiration for the development of algorithms; the construction of information processing systems that use biological materials or are modeled on biological processes, or both; and the effort to understand how biological organisms "compute," or process information." Forbes then shows us how current researchers are using these approaches. In successive chapters, she looks at artificial neural networks; evolutionary and genetic algorithms, which search for the "fittest" among a generation of solutions; cellular automata; artificial life - not just a simulation, but "alive" in the internal ecosystem of the computer; DNA computation, which uses the encoding capability of DNA to devise algorithms; self-assembly and its potential use in nanotechnology; amorphous computing, modeled on the kind of cooperation seen in a colony of cells or a swarm of bees; computer immune systems; biohardware and how bio-electronics compares t
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Forbes, a science/technology analyst for the federal government, has advanced degrees in both physics and the humanities; this book demonstrates that she has also developed a broad familiarity with the biological sciences. Covered here are several aspects of biology and computing: the use of biology in algorithm construction, the study of how biological systems communicate and process information, and the development of information processing systems that use biological materials, are based on biological models, or both. Demonstrating how timely this work is, a recent issue of Nature (May 2004) carried a lead article on a DNA "computer" able to detect cancer. Although the "computer" had only been verified in a test tube, biomedical personnel were enthusiastic about future applications with live patients. This book details a wide variety of work at different institutions focusing on genetic algorithms, neural networks, DNA computation, biohardware and bioelectronics, and amorphous computing. Though the text is clearly written, it offers a lot of technical information. Recommended for biologists, computer scientists, multidisciplinarians, and technical thinkers ready to learn about applications in the field of biological computing.-Hilary Burton, formerly with Lawrence Livermore National Lab, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"...A whirlwind history, richer even than its subtitle suggests." John Doyle and
Marie Csete Nature

The MIT Press

"...Forbes [is] an expert guide to the hottest research in a potentially revolutionary area of technology." Gilbert Taylor Booklist

The MIT Press

"Though the text is clearly written, it offers a lot of technical information.
Recommended..." Susan B. Hagloch Library Journal

The MIT Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262062411
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 190
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Forbes works as a science and technology analyst for the federal government. She has advanced degrees both in physics and the humanities, and has served as a contributing editor forThe Industrial Physicist and Computing in Science andEngineering.

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Table of Contents

1 Artificial neural networks 1
2 Evolutionary algorithms 13
3 Cellular automata 25
4 Artificial life 37
5 DNA computation 51
6 Biomolecular self-assembly 67
7 Amorphous computing 83
8 Computer immune systems 97
9 Biologically inspired hardware 113
10 Biology through the lens of computer science 139
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