Molecular Computing

22 - 26 November 2004

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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1. Description of the research area

Molecular Computing is a novel, exciting and a genuinely interdisciplinary research area which lies at the boundary of Computer Science and Molecular Sciences, especially Molecular Biology and Chemistry. Important advantages of molecular computing include massive parallellism, low level energy consumption, and the size needed to store information. For example, operations involving biomolecules are over a billion times more efficient with respect to electronic chips, and the information can be stored at a density of about a billion times higher than in usual electronic computers. This enormous potential of using (bio-)molecules as a computational substrate needs to be extensively investigated from both a theoretical and an experimental point of view. Theoretical studies involve the investigation of new computational models based on paradigms coming from biology, while the experimental studies involve the "proof-of-principle" experiments testing the use of modern laboratory techniques for the implementation of novel computational models. The biggest area of molecular computing is DNA computing which is concerned with the potential of DNA molecules for the purpose of computing. It can be divided roughly into two, certainly not disjoint, streams: DNA computing in vitro and DNA computing in vivo. The former is concerned with (the theoretical foundations and experimental work on) building DNA computers in the test tubes. DNA computing in vivo is concerned with constructing computational components (such as, e.g., simple switching circuits) in living cells, and with studying computational processes taking place in living cells.

2. European dimension

Current European research in Molecular Computing covers both theoretical and experimental issues. Research centers are spread throughout Europe, and most of them belong to the European Molecular Computing Consortium, the scientific organization encompassing currently groups from 14 countries. A lot of current research is supported by MolCoNet, a thematic network on Molecular Computing which is financed by the European Commission.

3. Goals and topics

The aim of the workshop is to get together the leading researchers on Molecular Computing in Europe with the aim of consolidating this research by

1.   Establishing the "state-of-the-art", and by

2.   Starting the future (short and long term) research goals that will be based on combining the existing European expertise. We envisage that discussions leading to the realization of the above two goals will include (at least) the following topics:

-    computational power of biologically inspired models of computations such as splicing systems, forbidding-enforcing systems and membrane systems,

-    basic models of uni-cellular and multi-cellular computing,

-    theory of self-assembly,

-    word design for molecular computing,

-    evolutionary DNA computing,

-    gene assembly in ciliates,

-    software construction for "in silico" modelling of molecular computing,

-    the use of fluorescence and mass spectrometry techniques for molecular computing,

-    autonomous implementation of computational models,

-    protein computing,

-    plasmid computing.

4. Keynote participants

We plan to invite a number of leading European Researchers in Molecular Computing; the list of planned invited participants include:

- Prof. G. Mauri (Milano) *

- Prof. G. Paun (Sevilla and Bucharest)

- Prof. V. Manca (Verona)

- Prof. M. Margenstern (Metz)

- Prof. M. Amos (Exeter)

- Prof. T. Harju (Turku)

- Prof. I. Petre (Turku)

- Prof. E. Csuhaj-Varju (Budapest)

- Prof. R. Freund (Vienna)

- Prof. G. Rozenberg (Leiden)

- Prof. Th. Baeck (Leiden)

- Prof. J.N. Kok (Leiden) *

* = organizers

Altogether we plan to have between 25 and 40 participants.


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