Held in conjuction with the 2006 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, ABI hosted a technical workshop on the field of Feedback and Dynamics in Nature.
The method of nature: who could ever analyze it?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
We live in a world Emerson could never have imagined; in a time where simple observation of the natural world has given way to tools and technologies allowing the exploration and modeling of the complex systems of nature. Unraveling the mysteries of nature’s own networks, introducing control systems to revive and rejuvenate damaged habitats, identifying sustainable procedures for human technologies to coexist with the natural world, and ultimately redirecting the function and utility of bio-systems for a variety of practical purposes are key goals in the multi-disciplinary field of Feedback and Dynamics in Nature or FDN.
Though relatively new, the field of FDN is undergoing a rapid revolution. The convergence and advances across a variety of sciences and technologies such as genomics and proteomics, computing and communications technologies, embedded networked systems, and the study of large-scale, complex, adaptive systems are all driving new models, applications, and control paradigms.
From networks of cells to insects to ecosystems and from wildfires to earthquakes, the role of feedback as a mechanism and dynamic analysis of the underlying control systems required to sustain and regulate complex phenomena will be an increasingly significant force of practical innovation.
The Feedback and Dynamics in Nature Workshop focused on this emerging field and included talks from researchers from diverse backgrounds including biology, physics, ecology, geology, engineering, and computer science. The discussions highlighted recent interdisciplinary successes in this area and targeted new opportunities for progress through interaction and convergence among these fields of study. Students, post-docs, faculty and industry professionals interested in this new and exciting field are attended the event.
The day’s agenda included an introduction into the field by Jean Carlson of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Naomi Ehrich Leonard of Princeton University, and Richard Murray of California Institute of Technology. Biological models of a distributed intelligence were described by Julia Parrish of the University of Washington, and Pamela Silver of Harvard University explored innovations in designing biological systems. Participants benefited from a talk moderated by Dr. Maria Klawe on research in interdisciplinary science given by Ralph Archuleta of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Margaret Martonosi of Princeton University, and Linda Petzold of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Deborah Estrin of University of California, Los Angeles shared her work on networked sensing systems.
The day closed with a poster session. Poster abstracts can be found in the workshop program.
Many students received scholarships to attend the workshop due to the generous support of the California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.