COMPUTATIONAL SYSTEMSComputational systems, whether natural or engineered, are distinguished by theirgreat complexity, as regards both their internal structure and behaviour, and theirrich interaction with the environment. Informatics seeks to understand and toconstruct (or reconstruct) such systems, using analytic, experimental andengineering methodologies. The mixture of observation, theory and practice willvary between natural and artificial systems.In natural systems, the object is to understand the structure and behaviour of agiven computational system. The theoretical concepts underlying natural systemsultimately are built on observation and are themselves used to predict newobservations. For engineered systems, the object is to build a system thatperforms a given informational function. The theoretical concepts underlyingengineered systems are intended to secure their correct and efficient design andoperation.Informatics provides an enormous range of problems and opportunities. Onechallenge is to determine how far, and in what circumstances, theories ofinformation processing in artificial devices can be applied to natural systems. Asecond challenge is to determine how far principles derived from natural systemsare applicable to the development of new kinds of engineered systems. A thirdchallenge is to explore the many ways in which artificial information systems canhelp to solve problems facing mankind and help to improve the quality of life forall living things. One can also consider systems of mixed character; a question oflonger term interest may be to what extent it is helpful to maintain the distinctionbetween natural and engineered systems


scientific challenges in the natural and social sciences
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