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EC-funded programme will search for a breakthrough in biologically driven computation

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A collaboration between Stirling and Berlin aims to build radical new ways in future computing.

The INtegral BIOmathics Support Action (INBIOSA) project will mobilise research in a variety of fields in mathematics and natural sciences towards a paradigm change in computational systems biology.

INBIOSA will investigate the biological imperatives of computation in a new way, its driving argument being that living systems have fundamentally different notions of self-organisation from those in engineering sciences today. For example, scientists are currently unable to identify in rigorous fashion what it is about cellular processes that sets them apart from synthetic devices made of silicon or steel.

By comprehending the fundamental principles of emergence, development and evolution in biology, the project aims to deliver new insights into the interaction and interdependence between natural and artificial (human-created) phenomena for a number of scientific fields.

Project coordinator Dr Plamen L. Simeonov, a researcher based in Berlin, explained: “A profoundly new understanding of the role of biology in natural and engineering sciences needs to be set out. INBIOSA will investigate the imperatives of mathematics and computation in a new way. Our goal is a set of novel mathematical formalisms to provide a generalised framework and ecology for research in life, physical, social and engineering sciences.”

His co-investigator Professor Leslie S. Smith, Head of the Institute of Computing Science and Mathematics at the University of Stirling, added: “The work proposed aims to identify the issues and ask the right questions in an answerable way, and in that way to clarify what the issues really are.”

The one year project, funded by a grant from the EC Seventh Framework Programme, has a primary aim of establishing the base for a long-term fundamental research programme in mathematics, systems biology and computation called Integral Biomathics.

INBIOSA aims to collect ideas and proposals for devising future research in Integral Biomathics. It will offer a collaboration platform (www.inbiosa.eu) for recognised experts to meet, exchange ideas and debate on issues of interest in that scientific field.

“World class scientists are involved in the project from its very beginning”, explained Dr Simeonov, “and this will provide a wide base for an international collaboration network.”

The long-term aim of the INBIOSA Project is to deliver answers to such questions as:
• what is computation? – in a biological context;
• how useful is a computation? – for living systems, where “usefulness” is studied from the viewpoint of the entity performing the computation;
• to what extent can a computation be carried out? – in an organism or an ecosystem, with the available resources (e.g. power, time, number of computing elements, etc).

Driving principles of the INBIOSA initiative:
• focusing on non-mainstream scientific research in mathematics and computation engineering targeting a synergetic integration and exchange with natural and life science disciplines;
• enforcing multidisciplinary approaches to investigation;
• identifying research areas which are crucial for accelerated, yet balanced, transformation of the future information society towards eco-awareness.

About INBIOSA
The INBIOSA Project was launched in January 2011 with the support of the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme. The project will continue until the end of December 2011. The project investigators are Dr. Plamen L. Simeonov (JSRC, Germany) and Professor Leslie S. Smith (University of Stirling, UK).
INBIOSA aims to identify new research topics and to assess emerging global S&T trends in ICT for future FET Proactive initiatives. The project’s base is a long-term fundamental research programme in mathematics, systems biology and computation called Integral Biomathics.

For more information:
Professor Leslie S Smith, University of Stirling
Tel:01786 467435
Email: l.s.smith@cs.stir.ac.uk  

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