29/5 - HURWITZ LECTURE(1): The Algorithmic Lens: How the Computational Perspective is Transforming the Sciences

Speaker: Prof. Christos Papadimitriou

Date: Thursday, May 29, 2008
Time: 17.15
Room: ETF

Abstract:
Computational research transforms the sciences (physical, mathematical,
life or social) not just by empowering them analytically, but mainly by
providing a novel and powerful perspective which often leads to
unforeseen insights. Examples abound: quantum computation pro-vides the
right forum for questioning and testing some of the most basic tenets of
quantum physics, while statistical mechanics has found in the efficiency
of randomized algorithms a powerful metaphor for phase transitions. In
mathematics, the P vs. NP problem has joined the list of the most
profound and consequential problems, and in economics considerations of
computational complexity revise predictions of economic behavior and
affect the design of economic mechanisms such as auctions. Finally, in
biology some of the most fundamental problems, such as understanding the
brain and evolution, can be productively recast in computational terms.
My talk is structured around eight vignettes exemplifying this pattern

Biographical Sketch:
Christos H. Papadimitriou is C. Lester Hogan Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley. Before joining Berkeley in 1996 he taught at Harvard, MIT, Athens Polytechnic, Stanford, and UCSD. He has written five textbooks and many research articles on algorithms and complexity, and their applications to optimization, databases, AI, economics, and the Internet. He holds a PhD from Princeton, and honorary doctorates from ETH (Zurich), the University of Macedonia, the University of Athens, and the University of Cyprus. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of the ACM. His novel Turing was published by MIT Press in 2003, and his graphic novel Logicomix (with Apostolos Doxiadis) will be published by Bloomsbury in 2008.