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Biological Computation

Ehud Lamm, Ron Unger
Publication Date:
May 25, 2011
Content Details:
343 pages

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List Price:   $90.95

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  • About the Book

    Book Summary

    The area of biologically inspired computing, or biological computation, involves the development of new, biologically based techniques for solving difficult computational problems. A unified overview of computer science ideas inspired by biology, Biological Computation presents the most fundamental and significant concepts in this area. In the book, students discover that bacteria communicate, that DNA can be used for performing computations, how evolution solves optimization problems, that the way ants organize their nests can be applied to solve clustering problems, and what the human immune system can teach us about protecting computer networks. The authors discuss more biological examples such as these, along with the computational techniques developed from these scenarios.

    The text focuses on cellular automata, evolutionary computation, neural networks, and molecular computation. Each chapter explores the biological background, describes the computational techniques, gives examples of applications, discusses possible variants of the techniques, and includes exercises and solutions. The authors use the examples and exercises to illustrate key ideas and techniques.

    Clearly conveying the essence of the major computational approaches in the field, this book brings students to the point where they can either produce a working implementation of the techniques or effectively use one of the many available implementations. Moreover, the techniques discussed reflect fundamental principles that can be applied beyond bio-inspired computing. Supplementary material is available on Dr. Unger's website.


      • Covers cellular automata, evolutionary computation, artificial neural networks, and molecular computation
      • Presents easy-to-follow explanations of several important proof techniques as well as detailed explanations of all derivations
      • Provides all necessary biological background
      • Introduces emerging topics, such as swarm intelligence and artificial immune systems
      • Includes plenty of theoretical and programming exercises in each chapter
      • Contains suggestions for further reading on each topic, along with an annotated bibliography
      • Offers PowerPoint slides for instructors online


      Biological computing, the three-billion-year-old goldmine of information processing concepts, is ready for our educational mainstream. This beautiful undergraduate text by Lamm and Unger may be the first step. This book expertly presents fundamental concepts of molecular biology in its first chapter, and then goes on to develop many computing classics from biology. … I enjoyed reading this text. The exercises flex the imagination, the definitions are clear and precise, and the explanations are unusually powerful. I have been searching for a text like this for years, and now I look forward to using it.
      Computing Reviews, August 2011

      I read this book in one breath—it opens vistas on how the fields of computation and biology can inspire each other. I particularly enjoyed the analogies between immune systems and software that fights computer viruses.
      —Uri Alon, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, and author of An Introduction to Systems Biology: Design Principles of Biological Circuits

      The book by Lamm and Unger methodically covers exciting developments in biological computation, offering for the first time a broad perspective of this important cutting-edge field of research.
      —Ehud Shapiro, The Harry Weinrebe Professorial Chair of Computer Science and Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

      This is a wonderful treatise on bio-inspired computation, written from a computer science perspective. The authors are extremely knowledgeable about their subject, and the material they cover is both broad and deep. The book should benefit anyone interested in the connection between computer science and biology, a connection that is poised to become dramatically central to the science of the 21st century.
      —David Harel, The William Sussman Professorial Chair, Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

  • Contents

    Introduction and Biological Background
    Biological Computation
    The Influence of Biology on Mathematics—Historical Examples
    Biological Introduction
    Models and Simulations

    Cellular Automata
    Biological Background
    The Game of Life
    General Definition of Cellular Automata
    One-Dimensional Automata
    Examples of Cellular Automata
    Comparison with a Continuous Mathematical Model
    Computational Universality
    Pseudo Code

    Evolutionary Computation
    Evolutionary Biology and Evolutionary Computation
    Genetic Algorithms
    Example Applications
    Analysis of the Behavior of Genetic Algorithms
    Lamarckian Evolution
    Genetic Programming
    A Second Look at the Evolutionary Process
    Pseudo Code

    Artificial Neural Networks
    Biological Background
    Artificial Neural Networks
    The Perceptron
    Learning in a Multilayered Network
    Associative Memory
    Unsupervised Learning

    Molecular Computation
    Biological Background
    Computation Using DNA
    Enzymatic Computation

    The Never-Ending Story: Additional Topics at the Interface between Biology and Computation
    Swarm Intelligence
    Artificial Immune Systems
    Artificial Life
    Systems Biology
    Recommendations for Additional Reading

    A Summary, Further Reading, Exercises, and Answers appear at the end of each chapter.