The field of cellular computing is a novel and exciting development at the intersection of biology, computer science, mathematics, and engineering. Practitioners in this emerging discipline are concerned with the analysis, modeling, and engineering of inter- and intra-cellular processes for the purposes of computation. Developments in the field have potentially huge significance, ranging from new biological sensors and methods for interfacing living material with silicon substrates, through intelligent drug delivery and nanotechnology and on toward a deeper understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of life itself. This book provides both an introduction to some of the early fundamental work and a description of ongoing cutting-edge research in the field.
The abstract operation of complex natural processes is often expressed in terms of networks of computational components such as Boolean logic gates or artificial neurons. The interaction of biological molecules and the flow of information controlling the development and behavior of organisms is particularly amenable to this approach, and these models are well established in the biological community. However, only relatively recently have papers appeared proposing the use of such systems to perform useful, human-defined tasks. Rather than merely using the network analogy as a convenient technique for clarifying our understanding of complex systems, it is now possible to harness the power of such systems for the purposes of computation. The purpose of this volume is to discuss such work.