Silvio Capobianco

Picture of me

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

As a rule of thumb, anyone who gives talks or sells books about how to have success but does not warn about the survivorship bias is selling snake oil.

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 Tallinn University of Technology.
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.

From March 2013 to August 2015 I was in a research project about coinduction. To figure out what coinduction is, think of how Michelangelo sculpted his David.

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 the spring semester I will give a cycle of seven talks by the title: Fantastic Recurrences and How to Solve Them
The slides of the talks can be found HERE
Attention: Due to the coronavirus emergency, the seminar is suspended until further notice.

I have given the course Concrete Mathematics:

During Autumn 2019 I have been the instructor for the second edition of the course ITB8832 Mathematics for Computer Science, based on the textbook for the course of the same name by Eric Lehman, F. Thomson Leighton and Albert R. Meyer.
The first edition of the course, which I gave in Autumn 2018, is archived HERE

During Spring 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.
During my undergraduate years I enjoyed using the C programming language. I hold Kernighan and Ritchie's manual as a great piece of literature.

I have been a long time 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.
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: 4 April 2017 --- fixed source code, made some small corrections, added new affiliation)
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: 14 April 2020

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional