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Colloquium - Beal

Spatial Computing: From Manifold Geometry to Biological Engineering
BBN Technologies
10/21/2010
3:30pm-4:30pm

An increasing number of distributed systems may be viewed as spatial computers -- collections of devices distributed to fill a physical space in which the difficulty of moving information between any two devices is strongly dependent on the distance between them. Examples include peer-to-peer wireless networks, engineered biological cells, wireless sensor networks, robotic swarms and reconfigurable computing platforms (e.g. FPGAs), as well as natural systems like animal swarms and cells during morphogenesis.

Spatial computers pose a major programming and control challenge due to their potential scale and radical decentralization. In this talk, I will present an approach in which we view the network as a discrete approximation of the physical space through which devices are distributed. Using this "amorphous medium" abstraction and a carefully chosen set of space-time primitives, the Proto spatial computing language allows a programmer to express global behaviors in terms of simple geometric computations. These are then automatically transformed into a program that uses local interactions between devices to robustly and scalably approximate the specified global behavior. I will illustrate this approach with applications in sensor networks, synthetic biology, and morphogenetic engineering.

Dr. Jacob Beal is a scientist at BBN Technologies. His research interests center on the engineering of robust adaptive systems, with a focus on modelling and control for spatial computing systems. Dr. Beal completed his PhD in 2007 under Professor Gerald Jay Sussman at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Hosted by Nikolaus Correll.

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