Natural Computing: DNA, Quantum Bits, and the Future of Smart Machines [NOOK Book]

Overview

Reports from the cutting edge, where physics and biology are changing the fundamental assumptions of computing.


Computers built from DNA, bacteria, or foam. Robots that fix themselves on Mars. Bridges that report when they are aging. This is the bizarre and fascinating world of Natural Computing. Computer scientist and Scientific American’s “Puzzling Adventures” columnist Dennis Shasha here teams up with journalist Cathy Lazere to explore the outer reaches of computing. Drawing...
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Natural Computing: DNA, Quantum Bits, and the Future of Smart Machines

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Overview

Reports from the cutting edge, where physics and biology are changing the fundamental assumptions of computing.


Computers built from DNA, bacteria, or foam. Robots that fix themselves on Mars. Bridges that report when they are aging. This is the bizarre and fascinating world of Natural Computing. Computer scientist and Scientific American’s “Puzzling Adventures” columnist Dennis Shasha here teams up with journalist Cathy Lazere to explore the outer reaches of computing. Drawing on interviews with fifteen leading scientists, the authors present an unexpected vision: the future of computing is a synthesis with nature. That vision will change not only computer science but also fields as disparate as finance, engineering, and medicine. Space engineers are at work designing machines that adapt to extreme weather and radiation. “Wetware” processing built on DNA or bacterial cells races closer to reality. One scientist’s “extended analog computer” measures answers instead of calculating them using ones and zeros. In lively, readable prose, Shasha and Lazere take readers on a tour of the future of smart machines.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Library Journal
In this breezy overview of current trends in computer design and software, computer science professor Shasha and writer-editor Lazere profile 15 computer scientists working on the application of "evolutionary techniques" like natural selection to robots exploring distant planets, next generation pharmaceutical designs, "analog programming," and more. While traditional computing relies on "skills learned in the last few hundred years of human history," pioneer Rodney Brooks looked to solutions developed over millennia of insect evolution, hypothesizing a robot that interacts directly with the world using touch and sonar, rather than a digital representation; today, Brooks designs bomb-disarming robots that crawl on "articulated pogo-stick sensing devices that work independently." In finance, Jake Loveless perfected "micromarket trading," which allows computers to detect patterns and adapt to changes over the very short term (such as minute-by-minute price and volume changes). Other profiles look at "computers" built out of DNA, the use of viruses to design new drugs, and other ways scientists are planning our escape from "the digital electronic prison" that dominates mainstream computing. Amateur tech enthusiasts should be absorbed by this knowledgeable but welcoming look at the bleeding edge of computing.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393077193
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/17/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,325,129
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Cathy Lazere, a former editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, is a freelance writer. She is based in New York.
Dennis E. Shasha, professor of computer science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, has written the "Puzzling Adventures" column in Scientific American. He lives in New York City.
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