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Royal Society Milner Award lecture by Professor Gordon Plotkin FRS
Professor Gordon Plotkin FRS is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh. Artificial languages gave rise to one of the great intellectual endeavours of the 20th century. They came to maturity in mathematical logic, around the 30's, in pursuit of metamathematics, the mathematics of mathematics. The first modern programming languages arose in the 50's; they made it possible to write today's complex software systems, which perform the myriad tasks we all now rely on. The study of artificial languages forms a fascinating mix of science and engineering. Professor Plotkin will look at this story, and the interplay between logic and computer science, explaining what it takes to understand an artificial language. As well as its syntax, its form, one must also give an account of its semantics, its meaning, itself tied intimately to its use. He will illustrate what can be done in computer science using semantical methods, and speculate on what else may be done. Finally, he will ask what the future developments of artificial languages may be, and look at a 21st century example, where they are beginning to be used in systems and synthetic biology, itself part of a broader movement connecting computer science and biology.
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History of science lecture 7 Mar
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