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Bits and Biology


  • The Science Center (Rm 4102), The Graduate Center, CUNY 365 5th Avenue New York, NY, 10016 United States (map)

W Sept. 12 - F Sept. 14 in the Science Center (Rm 4102)

Much of the business of life is about the transmission and processing of information, but it is less clear what the full mathematical structure of information theory teaches us about the mechanisms at work in living systems. We use the 70th anniversary of Shannon’s foundational papers as an opportunity to address this question, across all scales from the folding of individual protein molecules to the dynamics of learning. We will explore the amount of information that is conveyed in these different processes, and the nature of its representation, using information theory as a tool for the characterization of biological systems. More deeply, we will explore examples where optimization of information transmission has been used as a principle from which aspects of biological function can be derived. Presentations will start with pedagogical background, and there will be ample opportunity for discussion.

Wednesday 12 September 2018
2:30 PM Science of information meets the life sciences: Overview and results
Wojciech Szpankowski, Purdue University

4:00 PM Coffee

4:30 PM Coded string reconstruction: From substrings to traces
Olgica Milenkovic, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Thursday 13 September 2018
9:30 AM Coffee and bagels

10:00 AM Persistent copying in biological systems
Tom Ouldridge, Imperial College London

11:30 AM Coffee

12:00 PM Optimal cellular information transmission
Pieter Rein ten Wolde, AMOLF

1:30 PM Lunch

2:30 PM Mathematical techniques for analyses of single cell transcriptomic data
Anath Grama, Purdue University

4:00 PM Coffee

4:30 PM Three principles of data Science: Predictability, computability, and stability (PCS)
Bin Yu, University of California at Berkeley

Friday 14 September 2018
9:30 AM Coffee and bagels

10:00 AM Relating theories of neural coding using the information bottleneck
Matthew Chalk, IST Austria

11:30 AM Coffee

12:00 PM Decoding the brain’s Enigma
Ilya Nemenman, Emory University

1:30 PM Lunch

2:30 PM Geometry of the natural olfactory space
Tatyana Sharpee, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

4:00 PM Coffee

4:30 PM Outlook: Information theoretic principles for biological networks
William Bialek, Princeton University and The Graduate Center

Download full schedule here.

Sponsored by the Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences, and by the CUNY doctoral programs in Physics and Biology. Supported in part by the Center for the Science of Information, an NSF Science and Technology Center, and by the Center for the Physics of Biological Function, a joint effort of The Graduate Center and Princeton University.