Why a computer needs an immune system and why an immune system needs a computer

21 Oct
10/21/2010 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Distinguished Lecturer Series

Stephanie Forrest
University of New Mexico
Computer Science

Mount Holyoke College, Hooker Auditorium

Living systems process information. Understanding computation in biology helps us understand the natural world and suggests new engineering paradigms. As an example, the natural immune system, learns to recognize relevant patterns, remembers patterns that have been seen previously, uses combinatorics to construct pattern detectors efficiently, and exploits diversity to promote robustness. Further, the individual cells and molecules that comprise the immune system are distributed throughout our bodies, encoding and controlling the system in parallel with no central control mechanism.

The talk will describe several related projects that incorporate principles and mechanisms from immunology into computational applications, focusing on applications in computer security. It will also describe how ideas from computer science can be used to further our understanding of biological processes, emphasizing evolutionary diseases such as influenza and cancer.

Stephanie Forrest is Professor and Chairman of Computer Science at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Professor Forrest received the Ph.D. in Computer and Communication Sciences from the University of Michigan. Before joining UNM she worked for Teknowledge Inc. and was a Director's Fellow at the Center for Nonlinear Studies, Los Alamos National Laboratory. Professor Forrest is a member of the External Faculty at the Santa Fe Institute and Co-chair of its Science Board. She also served as SFI's Interim Vice President 1999-2000.


This is part of the Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W) and Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC) (less than 10 are held across the country each year). For more information, please visit http://minerva.cs.mtholyoke.edu/dls.