Wanted: Formalisms for Natural Computing

BCS-FACS Evening Seminar Series - joint seminar with BCS Women

Date/Time: Monday 7 February 2011, 6.00pm start. Refreshments served from 5.15pm.
Venue: BCS, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA | Map
Speaker: Professor Susan Stepney (University of York)

Registration: To register, or for any further information, please email Paul Boca


Classical computing has well-established formalisms for specifying, refining, composing, proving, and otherwise reasoning about computations.

Natural Computing uses novel kinds of substrates - such as chemicals, biomolecules, even slime moulds - to perform computations that don't conform to the classical model. Although these substrates can often be "tortured" to perform classical computation, this is not how they "naturally" compute. But our ability to exploit natural computation is hampered by a lack of corresponding formalisms: we need models for building, composing, and reasoning about programs that execute in these substrates.

What does, say, a slime mould programming language look like? Here I discuss some of the issues, from the perspective of a user who wants a principled programming approach for these systems.