The Changing Nature of Invention in Computer Science with Dennis Shasha

What drives inventions in computing? Necessity seems to play only a minor role. Anger at the way things are is much more powerful, because it leads to easier ways to work (the invention of new computer languages). A general dissatisfaction with the practical or theoretical structure of the world can open up whole new approaches to problems (complexity theory and cryptography). Finally, a genuine collaboration between people and machines can lead to an entirely new kind of engineering for devices that will travel to far-off planets or to hostile environments. The talk will discuss the work of several inventors in computing and engineering, their inventions, and how they came up with them and how they plan to come up with more in the future. The ensuing discussion will address the fundamental nature of invention in a world partly populated by intelligent machines.

Dennis Shasha

Dennis Shasha is a professor of Computer Science at the Courant Institute of New York University where he works with biologists on pattern discovery for network inference; with computational chemists on algorithms for protein design; with physicists and financial people on algorithms for time series; on clocked computation for DNA computing; and on computational reproducibility. Other areas of interest include database tuning as well as tree and graph matching. Because he likes to type, he has written six books of puzzles about a mathematical detective named Dr. Ecco, a biography about great computer scientists, and a book about the future of computing. He has also written five technical books about database tuning, biological pattern recognition, time series, DNA computing, resampling statistics, and causal inference in molecular networks. He has co-authored over seventy journal papers, seventy conference papers, and twenty patents. He has written the puzzle column for various publications including Scientific American.