The long-term aim of the INBIOSA Project is to deliver answers to such questions as:
- what is computation? – in biological context;
- how useful is a computation? – for living systems, where “usefulness” is studied from the viewpoint of the entity performing the computation;
- to what extent can a computation be carried out? – in an organism or an ecosystem, with the available resources (power, time, number of computing elements, etc.).
Driving principles of the INBIOSA initiative:
• focusing on non-mainstream scientific research in mathematics and computation engineering targeting a synergetic integration and exchange with natural and life science disciplines;
• enforcing multidisciplinary approaches to investigation;
• identifying research areas which are crucial for accelerated, yet balanced, transformation of the future information society towards eco-awareness.This project aims to investigate the imperatives of mathematics and computation in a cardinal new way by comprehending the fundamental principles of emergence, development and evolution in biology. The goal will be a set of novel mathematical formalisms capable of addressing the multiple facets of an integral model and a general theory of biocomputation within an adequate frame of relevance. Its base will be the realization of a long-term fundamental research programme in mathematics, biology and computation that we call Integral Biomathics (arxive-paper). A Post-Newtonian View into the Logos of Bios (On the New Meaning, Relations and Principles of Life in Science)...focused on the phenomena of emergence, adaptive dynamics and evolution of self-assembling, self-organizing, self-maintaining and self-replicating biosynthetic systems viewed from a newly-arranged perspective and understanding of computation and communication in the living nature.
Integral Biomathics is envisioned to discover and establish new relationships and deliver new insights into the interaction and interdependence between natural and artificial (human-created) phenomena for a number of scientific fields. It is expected to invent and develop new mathematical formalisms and provide a generalized framework and ecology for research in life, physical, social and engineering sciences.
STEPPING BEYOND THE NEWTONIAN PARADIGM IN BIOLOGY:
The focus of the transformative research is biology-centric. The key leverageable idea is that careful extension of the science of living systems can be more effectively applied to modern problems than the prevailing paradigm. That paradigm is extended from abstractions in physics. While they have some universal application, and computational advantages, their use need not be the default.A new set of abstractions from biology can now be similarly extended. This is made possible by new formal tools to understand abstraction and enable computability.
The commonly acknowledged opinion is that the problem of modern-day biological science is the absence of a unified theory. Dr. Plamen L. Simeonov (JSRC, Germany), coordinator of the project, commented: “Until now an enormous amount of data has been collected in the science of life, but that data alone doesn’t make a theory. The time is ripe for the establishment of a research program in the area which will support and eventually lead to the creation of a new biological theory.”
The laws and methods of physics cannot be unconditionally applied to the biological sciences due to the inconsistency of the systems in biology, and more generally to the differences in nature of the subjects studied by these two scientific disciplines. A new type of super-mathematics, unifying and extending diverse fields of mathematics to tackle biological problems is necessary, according to the attending the conference scientists. “We need a mathematics that can describe such an ever-changing, indeterminate, yet persistent “thing” , including how it maintains its “identity” within certain boundary conditions, yet ceases to function outside of those boundaries. Such an emergent, developmental and evolutionary mathematics does not exist“, is the opinion of the scientists.
“Equations of motion for biological system may not be appropriate. We should seek rules of organisation for living systems, and also rules of organisation for neural systems“, commentedProf. Leslie S. Smith, University of Stirling, UK, co-investigator on the project and organizer of the Stirling conference. “There may be generalizations of logic which include stochasticity. Further, we should also consider generalizations of information and information theory which might be more appropriate for living systems”, he added.
In contrast to the classical science, which is based on the externalist approach (or third person descriptions) in most of its areas, we also need to adopt the internalist approach (first person descriptions) when dealing with biological problems.
“We should consider time, and also versions of central pattern generators that apply to cognitive (rather than motor) systems”, is one of the conclusions the scientists reached.
Research roadmaps in computational systems biology, autonomic computing and communications target the enrichment of knowledge and technology transfer between (analytic) life sciences and (synthetic) engineering sciences. We claim that it is impossible to make significant progress in this transdisciplinary field without a breakthrough paradigm change towards biologically driven mathematics and computation. A profoundly new understanding of the role of biology in natural and engineering sciences needs to be set out.
“We are unable at present to identify in rigorous fashion what it is about cellular processes that set them apart from synthetic devices made of silicon and steel,” stated Prof. Dennis Bray (University of Cambridge, UK), the author of “Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell”.