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The Women's Postgraduate College for Internet Technologies (WIT) and the Faculty of Informatics of the Vienna University of Technology and the Austrian Computer Society (OCG) invited to:

A Grand Challenge: Full Reactive Modeling of a Multi-Cellular Animal

David Harel
The Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel






Monday, December 12, 2005
17:00 - 18:00 +

Vienna University of Technology
Heinz Zemanek Hörsaal
Favoritenstr. 9-11, 1040 Wien,
Ground floor

Photo David Harel

After the event

About 60 guests came to listen to the famous speaker.

Photos photos of the event

A video of the lecture was produced but is only available for internal use at the Technical University of Vienna.


Biological systems exhibit the characteristics of reactive systems remarkably, and on many levels; from the molecular, via the cellular, and all the way up to organs, full organisms, and even entire populations. Thus, a different brand of bioinformatics arises, in which, rather than "we" solving "their" computational problems, we use "our" languages, methods and tools to model and analyze "their" complex systems. This talk proposes a grand challenge for computer scientists and biologists: to model a full multi-cellular animal as a reactive system. We would like to construct a full, true-to-all-known-facts 4-dimensional model, that would be animated, flexible and comprehensive, and would enable full and realistic simulation of the animal's development and behavior over time (the fourth dimension). The talk will argue the (long-term) feasibility of the challenge, by describing two pieces of preliminary modeling work: (i) T-cell behavior in the thymus, using statecharts with Rhapsody, linked with Flash animation, and (ii) parts of the vulval development of C. elegans, using LSCs with the Play-Engine.


David Harel has been a faculty member at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel since 1980. He was Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from 1989 to 1995, and was Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science between 1998 and 2004. He is also co-founder of I-Logix, Inc. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978. He has spent two years at IBM's Yorktown Heights research center, and sabbatical years at Carnegie-Mellon and Cornell Universities.

In the past he has worked in several areas of theoretical computer science, including computability theory, logics of programs, database theory, and automata theory. Over the years his activity in these areas has diminished, and he has become involved in several other areas, including software and systems engineering, visual languages, layout of diagrams, modeling and analysis of biological systems, and the synthesis and communication of smell. He is the inventor of the language of statecharts and co-inventor of live sequence charts, and was part of the team that designed the tools Statemate, Rhapsody and the Play-Engine.

He devotes part of his time to expository work: He has delivered a lecture series on Israeli radio and has hosted a series of programs on Israeli television. Some of his writing is intended for a general audience (see, for example, Computers Ltd.: What They Really Can't Do (2000), and Algorithmics: The Spirit of Computing (1987, 1992, 2003), which was the Spring 1988 Main Selection of the Macmillan Library of Science.

He has received a number of awards, including the ACM Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award (1992), the Israel Prize in Computer Science (2004) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Rennes (2005). He is a Fellow of the ACM (1994) and of the IEEE (1995).
More info: http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il

Contact person at Vienna University of Technology

Dr. Beate List, list@wit.tuwien.ac.at , Tel. 58801-18830


WIT is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science, and Culture (bmbwk) and the European Social Fund (ESF). This event is sponsored by Erste Bank.


Attendance free!
After the talk there was the opportunity for an informal exchange of opinions at the buffet.


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