Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A system called Human Body

It had been a week since one of my co-workers accidentally cut his finger with a knife while slicing a carrot. We were in the middle of a discussion during evening tea break when everyone observed his finger. It was heeling by itself magnificently.

"Who on earth has instructed this finger to heel all by itself?", he remarked.
"Yes, very true! And we software engineers boast ourselves as being good programmers of complex systems!", everyone agreed.

No system can be as complex and as efficient as the human body. Each component functions independently without  his master's notice. It doesn't need notification of any sort. All parts integrated so perfectly well that they operate very proactively and each part (considering the smallest unit: cell) is highly responsible and very accountable. And we find it very painful to maintain a computer application integrated with two or more sub-systems.

Who sends hunger signals to the brain on time when the stomach is in need of food and it is yet to release energy for the body. The brain in turn signals our senses. What's the communication entity? What data is encoded in these signals? How does this signal know its start & destination address? God knows man. All we know is to satisfy our taste buds accounting some nutritional facts here and there. The human digestive system takes care of generating proteins, minerals, vitamins and sending them to appropriate places of the body.  What's more, the system advances itself by growth. Yet, till today, we can't handle connection failuires over the network.

Consider a simple example which occurs in our day to day lives. I have lost my keys and I am trying to recollect all the things related to it. Now, see what my mind does. It will start back tracking according to the said order; chronological order or reverse chronological order, not to forget, with audio visual images giving me precise location, people related to it considering every minute detail. Memory being bigger than any computer database, all processing of this kind is happening within a quarter of a second! We struggle to write a back tracking algorithm for a "computer program" having simple data structures. Now considering time and space complexity is another headache!

When I lift my arm, what command is issued from the brain so that it is my right arm with palm stretched and all the fingers aligned straight and I wave it to slap your face? The interprocess communication is really fantastic. Nobody knows correctly. To create such a system, in fact system of systems, which is so perfect & highly complex, there has to be the great almighty to whom all of us owe our lives.

If there is a study in modern science about mapping of systems in the human body to the programs of computer systems, then man would start building flawless systems. Its very difficult to find exact mapping or associating a part of human body to that of computers, but its possible to get fair amount of idea to give birth to an entirely new breed of computer systems.