Natural Computing: DNA, Quantum Bits, and the Future of Smart Machines

Natural Computing: DNA, Quantum Bits, and the Future of Smart Machines

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by Dennis E. Shasha, Cathy Lazere
     
 

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

Overview

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

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.
Washington Post
“The biographies, by Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere, are bite-size—no more than six pages or so—and the technical material is segregated in sidebars so that the reader doesn't get bogged down unless he or she wants to.”
Chicago Boyz blog
In their book Natural Computing, Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere describe the calculations necessary for the analysis of protein folding, which is important in biological research and particularly in drug design. Time must be divided into very short intervals of around one femtosecond, which is a million billionth of a second, and for each interval, the interactions of all the atoms involved in the process must be calculated. Then do it again for the next femtosecond, and the next, and the next.… It is sobering to think about what vast computational resources are necessary to even begin to simulate what tiny bits of nature do all the time.— David Foster
Wall Street Journal
In Natural Computing, Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere profile Mr. Shaw and 14 other scientists who are pushing computer science beyond traditional boundaries. In particular, the scientists are trespassing into the realms of biology and physics and attempting to create computer designs and functions that will imitate organic reality.— Jamie Hamilton
ACM Computing Reviews
There are many possible approaches to natural computing—computing inspired by nature—and Lazere and Shasha's new book gives a good overview of all of them… by telling the stories of some of the main players in the field.… even if you aren't a techie, the personal storytelling, which so nicely combines the technical focus of the book with the personal fascinations of the players, will still impress you with the natural computing field's main themes and challenges.… The authors also make the convincing case for parallel programming languages, such as K and APL, which seem indispensable when it comes to making effective use of the new generation of computer architectures.— Jan Van Den Bussche
World Politics Review
Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere draw upon interviews with 15 leading scientists working in disparate fields to explore the outer reaches of computing. They expected to write a book about a future world dominated by thinking machines, but instead found that the common vision to have emerged across all of these fields is that "the future of computing is a synthesis with nature.".... Reading the book, I came away with the comforting thought that the mindset of future computers will seem far less alien to my kids than to me.— Thomas P.M. Barnett
David Foster - Chicago Boyz blog
“In their book Natural Computing, Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere describe the calculations necessary for the analysis of protein folding, which is important in biological research and particularly in drug design. Time must be divided into very short intervals of around one femtosecond, which is a million billionth of a second, and for each interval, the interactions of all the atoms involved in the process must be calculated. Then do it again for the next femtosecond, and the next, and the next.… It is sobering to think about what vast computational resources are necessary to even begin to simulate what tiny bits of nature do all the time.”
Jamie Hamilton - Wall Street Journal
“In Natural Computing, Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere profile Mr. Shaw and 14 other scientists who are pushing computer science beyond traditional boundaries. In particular, the scientists are trespassing into the realms of biology and physics and attempting to create computer designs and functions that will imitate organic reality.”
Jan Van Den Bussche - ACM Computing Reviews
“There are many possible approaches to natural computing—computing inspired by nature—and Lazere and Shasha's new book gives a good overview of all of them… by telling the stories of some of the main players in the field.… even if you aren't a techie, the personal storytelling, which so nicely combines the technical focus of the book with the personal fascinations of the players, will still impress you with the natural computing field's main themes and challenges.… The authors also make the convincing case for parallel programming languages, such as K and APL, which seem indispensable when it comes to making effective use of the new generation of computer architectures.”
Thomas P.M. Barnett - World Politics Review
“Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere draw upon interviews with 15 leading scientists working in disparate fields to explore the outer reaches of computing. They expected to write a book about a future world dominated by thinking machines, but instead found that the common vision to have emerged across all of these fields is that "the future of computing is a synthesis with nature.".... Reading the book, I came away with the comforting thought that the mindset of future computers will seem far less alien to my kids than to me.”
Alexander Haislip
“[D]oes much to demystify what computer scientists do as well as reviewing the current state of research in the field. It’s the sort of book that’s perfect for a college student thinking about a career in computer science, or trying to understand which academic advisors to pick for his or her thesis.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393336832
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/17/2010
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,151,599
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

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