Almaden Institute - 2007 : Navigating Complexity: Doing more with less

The Almaden Institute is held annually at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. The Institute brings together eminent, innovative thinkers from academia, government, industry, research labs and the media for an intellectually charged, stimulating and vigorous dialogue that addresses fundamental challenges at the very edge of science and technology.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.
Alan Perlis - first recipient of the Turing Award

I don't think I've ever seen a piece of commercial software where the next version is simpler rather than more complex.
Walter Bender, Executive Director of the MIT media lab

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Albert Einstein

Computing and communication networks touch our everyday lives-- from mobile phones to email and instant messaging and from computational biology to grid computing for shared scientific research. Yet those of us in the IT industry are still working to deliver the necessary robustness, resiliency and security for this networked computing fabric to function invisibly and reliably. Our systems are often mysteriously slow, and blue screen" crashes occur all too often; malicious virus attacks cripple our networks, and identity theft threatens the very freedom of the open use of the web.

Many of today?s computing applications stand in stark contrast to traditional closed systems, historically created and operated inside an enterprise. More and more, applications are open, spanning the globe, involving billions of interacting components, supplied by myriad of vendors and continuously updated and used by millions of people. In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, we must move away from studying problems as piece parts and focus on the bigger picture as we create the computing systems of the future.

Can understanding systems biology help us design multi-layer robust, resilient systems? Can comprehending statistical mechanics from physics help us identify the necessary properties of multi-billion computing element ensembles? Can a better grasp of the principles of economics help us formulate scientific foundations and implications of global technology services business? Will such cross-disciplinary influences help us deliver a robust, globe-spanning fabric of computing utility and also prepare the next generation of university students with new skills for shaping technology development and services?


The Institute will endeavor to construct a collective bird's eye view both of the state of the art and of what is to come, to elucidate and formulate the main open questions in this grand quest and to highlight promising directions. As always, the goal of the institute is to ask tough questions, to raise important discussions and to prompt significant constructive action around a contemporary scientific and technological theme.

Confirmed speakers include:

The Institute format is designed to facilitate and foster discussion, debate, interaction, and networking.