CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
THE CLAUSER PRIZE - 2008
The final award to be made is the Milton and Francis Clauser Doctoral Prize. This prize is awarded annually from a gift of the Clauser family, in recognition of Milton and Francis Clauser, twin alumni of the Institute. The Clauser Prize is awarded to a student, whose Ph.D. thesis, completed within the previous twelve months, reflects extraordinary standards of quality, innovative research, ingenuity, and--especially--the potential of opening new avenues of human thought and endeavor.
This year the Clauser Prize will be awarded to Dr. David Soloveichik for his thesis entitled “Molecules computing: Self-assembled nanostructures, molecular automota and chemical reaction networks.”
The computing revolution began over two thousand years ago with mechanical calculating machines for predicting the motions of the stars and planets. Subsequent developments produced sophisticated clockwork automata for controlling the machinery of the industrial revolution, and culminated in Babbage's remarkable design for a programmable mechanical computer. With the electronic revolution of the last century, the speed and complexity of computers increased dramatically and we now program the behavior of a vast array of electro-mechanical devices, from cell-phones to automobile engines to power grids.
The history of computing has taught us that the principles of computing can be embodied in a wide variety of physical substrates from gears and springs to transistors, and that the mastery of a new physical substrate for computing has the potential to transform technology. David Soloveichik is pioneering another revolution in computing, this time using molecules as the computing elements.
His thesis provides seminal contributions to the theory of molecular computing. He has answered fundamental questions like: Can we program the self-assembly of complex molecular structures? How can the behavior of molecular systems be made more robust to imperfections and noise? How complex can chemical circuitry become? And, what are the fundamental limits?
Remarkably, David's theory is already serving as a guide for creating molecular computers in the laboratory. Collaborating with a postdoc in the group of his advisor, Prof. Erik Winfree, he has used DNA to construct AND gates, OR gates, and digital logic circuits that themselves take DNA as input and produce it as output. His advisor expects David's thesis will be at the vanguard of a profound shift in our understanding of what computation is – and how we can build radically new kinds of computing machinery.
I would like to ask Dr. Soloveichik to come forward at this time to receive a check in the amount of $2,000 in recognition of his outstanding work.