Silvio Capobianco

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Senior Research Scientist at Department of Software Science, Tallinn University of Technology.

The theory of cellular automata is, at its very root, a simplification gone wonderfully wrong. (Zoran Šunić)

Contact information

Short bio

I was born in Rome, Italy, where I earned my Laurea (BSc, 2000) and Dottorato di ricerca (PhD, 2005) in Mathematics from La Sapienza.

I have been a visiting scholar at Boston University, an Adjunct at my alma mater, and for two years a Postdoc at Reykjavik University before arriving at TUT.
I worked from 8 January 2009 to 31 December 2016 at the Institute of Cybernetics, which does not exist anymore as such since 1st January 2017. My unit, the Department of Software Science, consequently joined TUT's School of Information Technologies.

I speak fluent English and French, and can do small talk in Estonian and Spanish.


My main research topic is cellular automata, a model of synchronous parallel computation, where similar finite-state machines placed on the nodes of a grid update their state according to that of a finite neighborhood. I am especially interested in the properties of global dynamics.
I have written several papers about the properties of cellular automata that follow from those of the underlying grid. I am also co-author, with Tommaso Toffoli and Patrizia Mentrasti, of three papers (two research, one popularization) on the rewriting of cellular automata as different types of parallel systems. Currently, Toffoli and I are studying whether some results of classical mechanics may hold for discrete systems, and if so, under which hypotheses: on this we have written two papers.

I have added category theory and coalgebra to my research interests. From March 2013 to its end in August 2015 I joined a project led by Tarmo Uustalu, whose theme is coinduction. To figure out what coinduction is, think about Michelangelo's method for sculpting a marble elephant .

Other interests include theory of computation, topological dynamics, algebra, and some game theory.

My Erdős number is 4, possible paths being:

Here is a list of my publications.


During Fall 2016 I have been the instuctor for for the course ITT9131 -- Concrete Mathematics.
I had already been a TA for the previous editions of the course (at the time, ITT9130) in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

From March to May 2013 I have given the course ITT8040 -- Cellular Automata

Here is a cycle of seminars on symbolic dynamics I have given on April and May 2010.


My favorite programming language is Python.
I am also exploring Haskell and Agda, to use them in my personal research as well as joint projects.

I am a user of the SIMP/STEP cellular automata software by Ted Bach. I will keep a page on the subject.

I have organized a mini-workshop on cellular automata software, held on August 31, 2010. I will keep a page on the subject.

I typeset my articles with LaTeX.

I have used the Maxima computer algebra system to prepare and check exercises for my students.
Later on, I have gotten acquainted with R and GNU Octave.
In the future, I plan to switch to Sage.


I am a contributor to the Theory Lunch, organized by Wolfgang Jeltsch at the Institute of Cybernetics.
We regularly write in the Theory Lunch blog

In February 2013, Professor Robin Cockett (University of Calgary) gave at IoC a course on restriction categories.
Here are some notes I am taking and editing
(last update: 2016-01-25 --- fixed some typos, added description to several definitions, now released under Creative Commons "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike" 4.0 license)
If you find any errors or have any suggestions, you are welcome to contact me.

Here is a list of books from my bookshelf. Colleagues wanting to consult some, are welcome to ask.

And here is a selection of quotes.

Last update: 22 February 2017

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