CS 851 
Biologically-Inspired Computing
Slides - Readings - Links

Biologically-Inspired Computing

Graduate Seminar, Spring 2003

Coordinators: Jim Cohoon and David Evans

Tuesdays and Thursdays,
Olsson 228E.

Web Page: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/bio




Biology has developed effective solutions to tough engineering challenges through millions of years of evolution. Computer scientists can learn a great deal by observing nature and adopting biological approaches to problem solving. Biological systems tend to be decentralized, adaptive and environmentally aware, and as a result they have survivability, scalability and flexibility properties well beyond the best human-engineered systems. This seminar will survey work in computing that has drawn inspiration from biology, with a focus on security, survivability and optimization.


  • Cellular Automata
  • Neural Networks
  • Genetic Algorithms
  • Morphogenesis
  • Computer Immunology
  • Amorphous Computing
  • Biological Fault Tolerance
  • Self-organization, self-reconfiguring robots
  • Viruses, Agents
  • Swarm intelligence, Stigmergic Systems

The first part of the course will involve reading and discussing selected chapters from Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science. Later readings will be selected from books and research papers based on student interests.

All students are expected to contribute to the seminar regularly and to present one or two topics in depth.

In addition, students will work individually or in teams on an open-ended related research project relevant to the course. A project proposal will be due on February 27. The best projects should turn into conference papers.

No prior biology knowledge is expected, although students may find it helpful to read some introductory biology materials.

Reading List

CS 655 University of Virginia
Department of Computer Science
CS 851: Biologically-Inspired Computing