Prof. I. G. Sarma Memorial Lecture

Department of Computer Science and Automation
Indian Institute of Science

Computation as a Scientific Weltanschauung


Professor Christos Papadimitriou

Organized by:
The Department of Computer Science and Automation
Indian Institute of Science

Venue: Faculty Hall, Indian Institute of Science
Date: Thursday, January 4, 2018
Time: 4PM



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Computation as a Scientific Weltanschauung

Looking at the natural, life, and social sciences from the point of view of computation often results in unexpected insights, and progress in important problems. I will focus on some recent work in the life sciences: Evolution of a population through sexual reproduction can be rethought of as a repeated game between genes played through a well known, and powerful, algorithm, while selection, when acting in gene combinations instead of genes alone, can take exponentially long to fixate. Finally, experiments on the formation of stable memories in the human medial temporal lobe, and the associations between memories, can be explained through a random graph model and a connection to the sparsest k-subgraph problem.


Christos H. Papadimitriou is the Donoval Family Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. Before joining Columbia this year, he taught at Harvard, MIT, NTU Athens, Stanford, UCSD, and at Berkeley since 1995. He has written many books and articles on the theory of algorithms and complexity, and its applications to optimization, databases, control, AI, robotics, economics and game theory, the Internet, evolution, and the brain. He holds a PhD from Princeton, and honorary doctorates from nine universities. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the US, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering, and is a recipient of the Knuth prize, the Gödel prize, the Kalai prize for CS in Game Theory, the EATCS award, and the von Neumann medal. He has also written three novels: "Turing", " Logicomix" and his latest "Independence" (2017).


This prestigious lecture series was instituted in 1997 in memory of Professor I.G. Sarma, the founding Chairman of the Department of Computer Science and Automation (then called the School of Automation) during the formative years of 1971-1979. His tenure as the chairman, Centre for Continuing Education and later as the Dean, Faculty of Engineering was marked by many important academic and education initiatives being launched at the Indian Institute of Science. Professor Sarma mainly worked in the areas of Flight Control, Guidance, and Simulation and closely interacted with many of the Aerospace R&D and Flight Vehicle Design Organisations such as the NAL, DRDL, VSSC, and ADA among others.

The talk by Dr Agrawal will be the eleventh in the series of lectures.


The lecture is organized by the Department of Computer Science and Automation, Indian Institute of Science.

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