Tutorial by David Harel  

Can we Computerize an Elephant?

  Monday September 13th      Time: 14.30 - 18.30
Room: 27

The talk shows how techniques from computer science and software engineering can be applied beneficially to research in the life sciences.

We discuss the idea of comprehensive and realistic modeling of biological systems, where we try to understand and analyze an entire system in detail, utilizing in the modeling effort all that is known about it.

I will address the motivation for such modeling and the philosophy underlying the techniques for carrying it out, as well as the crucial question of when such models are to be deemed valid, or complete.

The examples will be from among the biological modeling efforts my group has been involved in: T cell development, lymph node behavior, organogenesis of the pancreas, and fate determination in the reproductive system of the C. elegans nematode worm.

The ultimate long-term "grand challenge" is to produce an interactive, dynamic, computerized model of an entire multi-cellular organism, such as the C. elegans, which is complex, but well-defined in terms of anatomy and genetics.

David Harel
The Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.
Professor, Dept. of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics
The William Sussman Professorial Chair
     David Harel has been at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel since 1980.
   He was Department Head from 1989 to 1995, and was Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science between 1998 and 2004.
   He was also co-founder of I-Logix, Inc.
   He received his PhD from MIT in 1978, and has spent time at IBM Yorktown Heights, and sabbaticals at Carnegie-Mellon, Cornell, and the University of Edinburgh.
   In the past he worked mainly in theoretical computer science (logic, computability, automata, database theory), and he now works mainly on software and systems engineering and on modeling biological systems.
   He is the inventor of statecharts and co-inventor of live sequence charts, and co-designed Statemate, Rhapsody and the Play-Engine. Among his awards are the ACM Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award (1992), the Israel Prize (2004), the ACM Software System Award (2007), and three honorary degrees.
   He is a Fellow of the ACM, the IEEE and the AAAS, and was elected to the Academia Europaea.


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