The Space and Motion of Large Informatic Systems

Robin Milner

(University of Cambridge)

Informatics is no longer confined to computation. It concerns any real-world
system, whether naturally occurring or man-made, where information flows among
the components. Examples are the internet, biological systems, and the
sensors/activators and software embedded in an aircraft or even in your body.
Such systems are often called ubiquitous computing systems (ubicomp).

Computer science, better called informatics, is therefore a modelling science on
a par with chemistry and biology. To understand ubicomp is even more imperative
than to understand legacy computing systems. I argue that for this purpose we
need a tower of models of increasing abstraction, which may be combine with
other models (e.g. with electro-mechanics and meteorology to model aircraft flight).

I shall put forward a generic model, called bigraphs, for ubicomp. I shall
illustrate it with the informatic flow in a highly instrumented built
environment. The model is mathematical yet highly visual.
Thursday 5th November 2009, 14:00
Robert Recorde Room
Department of Computer Science