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Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 02:00pm


Luca Andrea Cardelli Dr. Luca Andrea Cardelli

Assistant Director, Microsoft Research (Cambridge, UK) & Royal Society Research Prof, CS Dept, University of Oxford

"The Cell Cycle Switch Computes Approximate Majority"

Abstract: Biological systems have been traditionally, and quite successfully, studied as 'dynamical systems', that is, as continuous systems defined by differential equation and investigated by sophisticated analysis of their continuous state space. More recently, in order to cope with the combinatorial complexity of some of these systems, they have been modeled as 'reactive systems', that is, as discrete systems defined by their patterns of interactions and investigated by techniques that come from software and hardware analysis.

There are growing formal connections being developed between those approaches, and tools and techniques that span both. The two approaches can be usefully combined to bring new insights to specific systems. In one direction we can ask 'what algorithm does a dynamical system implement' and in the opposite direction we can ask 'what is the dynamics of a reactive system as a whole'. Answers to these questions can establish links between the structure of a system, which is dictated by the algorithm it implements, and the function of the system, which is represented by its dynamic behavior. Since there is depth on both sides, in the intricacies of the algorithms, and in the complexity of the dynamics, a better understanding can emerge of whole systems.

I will focus in particular on a connection between a clever and well-studied distributed computing algorithm, and a simple chemical system (4 reactions). It leads to a connection between that algorithm and a well-known biological switch that is universally found as part of cell cycle oscillators. These connections are examples of 'network morphisms’ that preserve both structure and functionality across systems of different complexity.

Joint work with Attila Csikász-Nagy.

Bio: Dr. Luca Andrea Cardelli is an Italian computer scientist who is an Assistant Director at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK and Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford Department of Computer Science. Cardelli is well known for his research in type theory and operational semantics. Among other contributions, he helped design Modula-3, implemented the first compiler for the (non-pure) functional programming language ML, and defined the concept of typeful programming. He helped develop the Polyphonic C# experimental programming language. In 2004 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2007, Cardelli was awarded the Senior AITO Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard prize. He was born in Montecatini Terme, Italy. He attended the University of Pisa before receiving his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 1982. Before joining Microsoft Research in 1997, he worked for Bell Labs and Digital Equipment Corporation.

Read more at Dr. Cardelli's Wikipedia Page.


Hosted by: EECS Prof. Robby Findler & CS+X Committee

Location Ford ITW Auditorium
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 02:00pm
Contact Lana Kiperman, 846-467-0028,

Seminar start time subject to change.  Download as iCal file