Computation & Neural Systems California Institute of Technology

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Paul Rothemund, Senior Research Associate in Bioengineering, Computer Science, and Computation and Neural Systems, and colleagues have fabricated complicated shapes from DNA's close chemical cousin, RNA. "RNA origami is still in its infancy," says Rothemund. "Nevertheless, I believe that RNA origami, because of their potential to be manufactured by cells, and because of the extra functionality possible with RNA, will have at least as big an impact as DNA origami." [Caltech Release] 08.22.14

Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, explains, "I tend to think of cells as really small robots. Biology has programmed natural cells, but now engineers are starting to think about how we can program artificial cells. When I program my computer, I can think entirely in terms of deterministic processes. But when I try to engineer what is essentially a program at the molecular scale, I have to think in terms of probabilities and stochastic (random) processes. This is inherently more difficult, but I like challenges. And if we are ever to succeed in creating artificial cells, these are the sorts of problems we need to address." [Caltech Release] 02.23.14

The World University RankingsWhat keeps Caltech at the top of the Times Higher Education university rankings? In a series of highly candid and extraordinary interviews with EAS Chair Ares Rosakis, BBE Chair Steven Mayo, and their faculty colleagues, the editor of the Times reports on the Institute. He observes: "While diminutive scale may be a disadvantage for some institutions, for Caltech, it is at the heart of its being, and perhaps the single most important aspect of its extraordinary global success." [Read the full article] [pdf of article] 02.10.14

David Anderson, Seymour Benzer Professor of David AndersonBiology; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and colleagues have identified one gene and a tiny group of neurons, sometimes as few as three, present only in the brains of male fruit flies, that can control aggression. [New York Times Article] 02.06.14

Applicants to the CNS PhD program: we will be accepting applications until Jan 15, 2014.

Colin F. Camerer, Robert Kirby Professor of Hillary MushkinBehavioral Economics, has been named a MacArthur Fellow. This unrestricted fellowship —also known as the "genius" grant— is awarded each year to individuals who show "exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future." [Caltech Release] [MacArthur Foundation] 09.26.13

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How does the brain compute? Can we endow machines with brain-like computational capability? Faculty and students in the CNS program ask these questions with the goal of understanding the brain and designing systems that show the same degree of autonomy and adaptability as biological systems. Disciplines such as neurobiology, electrical engineering, computer science, physics, statistical machine learning, control and dynamical systems analysis, and psychophysics contribute to this understanding. The unifying theme is the relationship between the physical structure of a computational system (molecular, neuronal, or electronic hardware), the dynamics of its operation, and the computational problems that it can efficiently solve.


Faculty Positions Available Positions are available through Engineering & Applied Science, Biology, and Information Science & Technology. For details, see our Positions page.

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A complete list of speakers including additional information such as talk titles and abstracts can be found on the CNS Wiki Page.

A good choice involves rapidly combining both value and visual information. Here, the fly chooses the food reward offered by the salient flower, but pays a devastating price falling prey to the camouflaged crab spider

The Computation and Neural Systems degree program is organized jointly by the Division of Biology, the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy.



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