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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: November 25, 2002
Volume 38, Number 10

Stefanovic, Moore receive NSF grants

By Michael Padilla

Two UNM computer science professors received nearly $500,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) QuBiC (Quantum and Biologically Inspired Computing) group.

Darko Stefanovic, assistant professor in computer science, received $300,365 and Cris Moore, assistant professor in computer science and physics and astronomy, received $195,000.

Stefanovic is working with Milan Stojanovic, Columbia University, on a project in molecular computing. Stefanovic said molecular computing offers the ability to do computation at the cellular level, and creates nanotechnologies ranging from ultradense memory to intracellular devices to diagnose and treat disease.

Stefanovic said the authors of this proposal have found — and experimentally verified — a new form of molecular computing, deoxribozyme logic, that offers much greater scalability and robustness than previous forms of DNA computing.

“Already we have succeeded in building simple computational devices and testing them in the laboratory,” Stefanovic said. “But, scaling these devices up presents massive combinatorial problems.”

Stefanovic said years from now the general public will benefit from medical techniques in which decision-making —a form of computation— to make diagnostic decisions, occur in each cell instead of in the laboratory. “Eventually this can be extended to therapeutic decisions and actions as well,” he said.

Moore’s project is in collaboration with Alexander Russell at the University of Connecticut. The project, totaling $370,000, combines approaches from physics, mathematics and computer science to better understand quantum computation.

Moore said the main tool in the project is to use Fourier analysis, a mathematical technique that breaks functions down according to how they oscillate.

Moore said that Peter Shor of AT&T demonstrated in 1995 that quantum computers can factor large numbers quicker than classical computers can.

“This means that quantum computers could break most forms of public-key encryption currently in use,” Moore said. “Our ‘holy grail’ is to solve another problem which is believed to be very hard for classical computers, Graph Isomorphism. This problem asks whether one large mathematical structure is actually just a scrambled version of another.”

“Both projects explore radically new ways to do computing...” Moore said. “At some point our current computing technologies will reach the limit of how fast and how small we can make them, and ...it will be essential to look at fundamentally new technologies.”