Leiden Center for Natural Computing

The mission of LCNC is to promote research and education in Natural Computing

Natural Computing is a general term referring to computing going on in nature and computing inspired by nature. When complex phenomena going on in nature are viewed as computational processes, our understanding of these phenomena and of the essence of computation is enhanced. In this way one gains valuable insights into both natural sciences and computer science. Characteristic for man-designed computing inspired by nature is the metaphorical use of concepts, principles and mechanisms underlying natural systems. Thus, evolutionary algorithms use the concepts of mutation, recombination and natural selection from biology; neural networks are inspired by the highly interconnected neural structures in the brain and the nervous system; molecular computing is based on paradigms from molecular biology; and quantum computing based on quantum physics exploits quantum parallellism. There are also important methodological differences between various subareas of natural computing. Thus, e.g., evolutionary algorithms and algorithms based on neural networks are presently implemented on conventional computers. On the other hand, molecular computing also aims at alternatives for silicon hardware by implementing algorithms in biological hardware (bioware), e.g., using DNA molecules and enzymes. Also quantum computing aims at nontraditional hardware that would allow quantum effects to take place. Computer science undergoes now an important transformation by trying to combine the computing carried on in computer science with the computing observed in nature all around us. Natural computing is a very important catalyst of this transformation, and holds a lot of promise for the future.

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