Avogadro-Scale Engineering:
Form and Function

November 18, 19  2003
The Bartos Theater
Building E15

  Vision  Agenda  Background Reading  Posters 


Tuesday, November 18th: Form

8:00-9:00 Breakfast & Registration

9:00-9:15 Introduction (video)
Neil Gershenfeld

9:15-9:30 Form
Joseph Jacobson

9:30-10:30 Foundations
Marvin Minsky: The History of Self-Reproduction
Charles Bennett (IBM): Brownian Computation
Elebeoba May (Sandia): Coding Theory and Protein Synthesis

10:30-11:00 Break

11:00-12:30 Research Talks (video)
Shuguang Zhang: Avogadro-Scale Molecular Self-Assembly in Biological Systems
Drew Endy: Genetic Design
Rafael Reif: Three-Dimensional Circuitry
Saul Griffith: Programmable Assembly
Larry Sass: Macroscale Self-Assembly

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:00 Research Talks (video)
Ehud Shapiro (Weizmann Institute): Biomolecular Computers

2:00-4:00 Discussions and Demonstrations

4:00-5:00 Large-Scale Systems (video)
George Chiu: IBM's Blue Gene
Juha Kortelainen: UPM-Kymmene
Mel King, Amy Sun: Global Invention

5:00- Reception and Dinner

Wednesday, November 19th: Function

8:00-9:00 Breakfast

9:00-9:15 Function (video)
Neil Gershenfeld

9:15-10:30 Research Talks
Rahul Sarpeshkar: Analog vs Digital
Ben Vigoda: Differential Belief Propagation
Ben Recht: Distributed Convex Optimization
Bill Butera: Virtual Self-Assembly
Isaac Chuang: Reliability is a Fungible Resource
Sebastian Seung: Reverse-Engineering the Brain

10:30-11:00 Break

11:00-12:30 Partner Presentations (video)
Jonathan Yedidia (MERL): Generalized Belief Propagation
Scott Kirkpatrick (Hebrew University): Computation Despite the Presence of Phase Transitions
Susan Coppersmith (University of Wisconsin): The Complexity of Physical Dynamics
Pablo Parrilo (ETH): Semidefinite Programs and Semialgebraic Relaxations
Martin Wainwright (Berkeley): Semidefinite Relaxations for Approximate Inference on Graphs with Cycles
Raff D'Andrea (Cornell): Distributed Control Systems
John Doyle (Caltech): Fragility and Complexity

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:30 Working Groups
Form: Fabricating Complexity
Function: Statistical-Mechanical Engineering
Foundations: Fundamental Limits and Uncertainty Relations
Formats: Description Languages and Designs Tools

3:30-4:30 Institutional Perspectives and Wrap-up (video)
Kamal Abdali: NSF
Kwan Kwok: DARPA

Background Reading



MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms is hosting a workshop on "Avogadro-Scale Engineering," seeking to develop an engineering practice that is appropriate for the kinds of experimental systems that CBA researchers are creating that might scale from having 103 to 1023 components (http://cba.mit.edu/docs/03.06.NSF/).

This follows a meeting ran last year on emergent phenomena in enormously complex engineered systems (http://cba.mit.edu/events/02.10.emergent/), which identified the increasingly urgent need for, and lack of, design principles that can prescribe as well as describe such behavior. This meeting will present encouraging progress since then towards answering these challenging questions.

The two days will be divided between the two core CBA goals of embodying and abstracting logical functions in physical forms. The first day, on "form," will explore prospects for programmable universal error-corrected assembly of perfect macroscopic systems from imperfect microscopic components, over scales from molecules to buildings. And the second day, on "function," will consider the operation of such systems in a "statistical-mechanical" limit that can reliably specify their global behavior without demanding a detailed description of their internal configuration, based on algorithm generators such as physical implementations of generalized graphical message-passing and distributed solutions to semidefinite programs.

Each day will comprise morning research talks from both CBA researchers and leading international collaborators in these areas, afternoon laboratory demonstrations and joint work, ending with wrap-up roadmap planning for future support of these activities. Attendance at the meeting requires registration with Susan Murphy-Bottari <susan@cba.mit.edu>, who can also provide information on the local logistics.

We look forward to seeing you at MIT,

Isaac Chuang
Neil Gershenfeld
Joseph Jacobson
Scott Manalis