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CS-ECE Distinguished Seminar Series: From Robots to Biomolecules: Computing meets the Physical World

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Monday, January 29, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Lydia E. Kavraki, Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science at Rice University
CS-ECE Distinguished Seminar Series

Over the last decade, the development of fast and reliable motion planning algorithms has deeply influenced many domains in robotics, such as industrial automation and autonomous exploration. Motion planning has also contributed to great advances in an array of unlikely fields, including graphics animation and computational structural biology.

This talk will present approaches that can be applied to general robotics systems in order to produce motion plans that satisfy high-level specifications. High-level specifications declare what the robot must do, rather than how this task is to be done. This line of research research explores the links among formal methods from logic and verification, classical motion planning from robotics, and task planning from artificial intelligence. Although research initially began in the realm of robotics, the experience gained has led to algorithmic advances for analyzing the shape and function of proteins, the worker molecules of all cells. The talk will conclude by discussing robotics-inspired methods for computing the flexibility of proteins and for molecular docking with the ultimate goal of deciphering molecular function and aiding the discovery of new therapeutics.