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Natural born computers – serious fun when biology meets computer science

The inaugural lecture of Professor Peter McOwan, Professor of Computer Science and award-winning communicator of science, will be held on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 6.30pm.

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In the lecture, entitled: ‘Natural born computers – when biology meets computer science’ Professor McOwan will explore how a mathematical understanding of the visual processing undertaken by insects and humans allows us to better understand these biological systems and develop new computer technologies.

Professor McOwan commented: “Biological brains have impressive information processing strategies to allow survival in the natural world. If we can describe these mathematically we can build computer simulations and design experiments to test our approach. One interesting result I will be showing is how this sort of mathematics can lead to creating new optical illusions, and how these visual illusions can help us understand better the way we see.”

Peter McOwan’s interdisciplinary background in physics, mathematics and psychology supports his research in motion perception and affective computing applications. He also works to promote the public understanding of science and to enthuse the next generation of scientists. He is co-creator of cs4fn (Computer Science for Fun) a free magazine and interactive website for schools which aims to show that computer science is ‘serious fun’.

McOwan adds: “Though cs4fn presents research in a fun, quirky and accessible way, it also shows computer science’s serious side – how it affects society, its multi-disciplinarity, and how exciting advances are often made at the boundaries. In my lecture I will be showing some examples of how our ‘serious fun’ approach works.”

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