1st International Work-Conference on Linguistics, Biology and Computer Science: Interplays (Interplays)

Venue: Universitat Rovira I Virgili

Location: Tarragona, Tarragona, Spain

Event Date/Time: Mar 14, 2011 End Date/Time: Mar 19, 2011
Registration Date: Mar 10, 2011
Paper Submission Date: Jan 30, 2011
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Conference Description:

The proposed scientific activity is a work-conference, a combination of school and conference. On the one hand, world-renowned researchers will teach specific courses related to the intersection of at least two of the disciplines considered here (i.e. linguistics, biology, and computation). On the other hand, researchers from all over the world will present the latest developments in research at the intersection of these three disciplines. With this type of activity we want to generate an environment that helps create useful contacts and improves overall quality of research.


During the 20th century biology became a pilot science; many disciplines have formulated their theories around models taken from biology. Computer science has become an almost bio-inspired field, thanks to great developments in natural computing and DNA computing. In linguistics there have been several attempts to establish structural parallelisms between DNA sequences and verbal language (Jakobson, 1973, Marcus, 1998, Ji, 2002). In general, it can be stated that the structural and “semantic” similarities between genetic and verbal codes and other bio-inspired computing models can greatly benefit research in formal languages and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Therefore, NLP could become another “bio-inspired” science by adapting the tools, methodologies, and formalizations of theoretical computer science. In this way, we could obtain a theoretical framework where biology, NLP, and computer science exchange models and interact, by further uncovering the semiotic parallelisms between genetic code and natural language.

The exchange between biology and methods of linguistics / formal language theory has a long tradition, as exemplified by:

1. Results and methods in the field of formal language theory applied to biology: (1) Pawlak dependency grammars (1965) to account for the formation of proteins, (2) Tree adjoining grammars (TAGs) to predict the structure and alignment of RNA (Matsui, Sato & Sakakibara, 2005), (3) “Definite Clause Grammars” and “cut grammars” to investigate the structure of genes and their mutations (Searles, 1999), (4) grammatical inference to learn the structure of the genetic code (Sakakibara, 2005), and (5) Formal approaches to biology (Gheorghe & Mitrani, 2004).

2. Natural languages as models in biology: (1) Watson’s (1968) explanation of inheritance as a form of communication, (2) the ideas of Jacob (1970) that the nucleotides can be considered phonemes, and that the meaning of the genetic message is given by the combination of its symbols into words and the organization of words in phrases, and (3) the use of transformational grammars for modelling gene regulation (Collado et al., 1998).

3. Biological ideas in linguistics: (1) the “tree model” proposed by Schleicher (1863), (2) natural metaphor in linguistics, defended by Jakobson (1970, 1973), (3) the computational evolutionary perspective on language change (Croft, 2001), and (4) the emergence of language and innatism, from the perspective of evolution theory (Kirby, 2007).

4. DNA as a model for computing: (1) DNA Computing (Paun et al., 1998), (2) splicing (Head, 1987), (3)systems based on mutations of nucleotides (Dassow, Mitrana & Salomaa, 2002), (4) sticker systems (Alhazov and Cavaliere, 2005), (5) P systems (Paun, 2001), and (6) networks of evolutionary processors (NEPs) (Castellanos et. al., 2003).


Av. de Catalunya, 35

Additional Information

Important Dates: Deadline for paper submission: January 30th, 2011 Acceptance Notification: February 15, 2011 Registration Begins: February 15, 2011 Conference Dates: March 14-19, 2011