Informatics is THE science of information processing. Natural
Computing is an interdisciplinary research field that investigates
human-designed computing inspired by nature as well as computation
taking place in nature, i.e., it investigates models, computational
techniques, and computational technologies inspired by nature as well
as it investigates phenomena/processes taking place in nature in terms
of information processing. Although the research in Natural Computing
is genuinely interdisciplinary, a preponderance of this research is
centered in informatics.
One of central research areas of Natural Computing is a computational
understanding of the functioning of the living cell. Such an
understanding contributes to both the design of new methodologies and
technologies for computing and to a deeper understanding of basic
We view this functioning in terms of computational processes resulting
from interactions between (a huge number of) individual reactions,
where each reaction is seen as an individual processor. These
interactions are driven by two mechanisms, facilitation and
inhibition: reactions may (through their products) facilitate or
inhibit each other.
We present a formal framework for the investigation of these
interactions. We motivate this framework by explicitly stating a
number of assumptions that hold for processes resulting from these
interactions, and we point out that these assumptions are very
different from the ones underlying traditional models of computation.
We discuss basic properties of these processes as well as their
attractiveness from the computational point of view. We also
demonstrate how to capture and analyse, in our framework, some
notions related to cell biology and biochemistry.
Research topics in this framework are motivated by biological
considerations as well as by the need to understand the nature of
computation. The models we discuss turn out to be novel and
attractive from the informatics point of view.
The lectures are of interest to mathematicians and computer
scientists interested in models of computation as well as to
bioinformaticians, biochemists, and biologists interested in
foundational/formal understanding of biological processes. They are of
a tutorial style and self-contained. In particular, no prior knowledge
of biochemistry or cell biology is required.
The presented framework was developed jointly with A.Ehrenfeucht from
University of Colorado at Boulder.