Friday, July 01, 2005

Top 125 questions for the next 25 years

In honor of its 125th anniversary, Science magazine is running a series on the top 125 questions on science that can be asked in the next 25 years. The top 25 have a detailed blurb each: all the usual suspects are there, with one pleasant surprise:
"What are the limits of conventional computing"
... Mathematicians have shown that if you could come up with a quick and easy shortcut to solving any one of the hardest type of NP problems, you'd be able to crack them all. In effect, the NP problems would turn into P problems. But it's uncertain whether such a shortcut exists--whether P = NP. Scientists think not, but proving this is one of the great unanswered questions in mathematics....
There is also a blurb on mining biological data, with the key point being made that this is an interdisciplinary area that requires biologists, mathematicians and computer scientists to work together.
Progress is limited by the difficulty of translating biological patterns into computer models. Network computer programs themselves are relatively simple, and the methods of portraying the results in ways that researchers can understand and interpret need improving. New institutions around the world are gathering interdisciplinary teams of biologists, mathematicians, and computer specialists to help promote systems biology approaches. But it is still in its early days.
(Via The Loom)
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