Computational Immunology: What happens when a computer scientist falls in love with immunology

9 February 2017
Soumya Banerjee

The immune system finds very rare amounts of pathogens and responds against them in a timely and efficient manner. The time to find and respond against pathogens does not vary appreciably with the size of the host animal (scale invariant search and response). This is surprising since the search and response against pathogens is harder in larger animals.

The first part of the talk will focus on using techniques from computer science to solve problems in immunology, specifically how the immune system achieves scale invariant search and response. I use machine learning techniques, ordinary differential equation models and spatially explicit agent based models to understand the dynamics of the immune system. I will talk about Hierarchical Bayesian non-linear mixed effects models to simulate immune response in different species.

The second part of the talk will focus on taking inspiration from the immune system to solve problems in computer science. I will talk about a model that describes the optimal architecture of the immune system and then show how architectures and strategies inspired by the immune system can be used to create distributed systems with faster search and response characteristics.

I argue that techniques from computer science can be applied to the immune system and that the immune system can provide valuable inspiration for robust computing in human engineered distributed systems.

  • Industrial and Applied Mathematics Seminar