UbiComp 2004 Previous Conferences Community Directory Discussion Space

Conference Program

full papers
interactive posters
doctoral colloquium
conference banquet


Hotel & Travel
Local Attractions
Conference Committee
Call for Participation
A Grand Challenge: The Global Ubiquitous Computer
Robin Milner
Professor of Computer Science University of Cambridge, UK

The UK Computing Research Committee has launched a programme of Grand Challenges, to focus the long-term aspirations of the computing research community (national and international) both in science and in engineering. At present there are seven proposals for such challenges, arising from ideas submitted to a workshop in 2002. For each proposal there is a core group of researchers aiming to form a road-map.

Two of these proposed Challenges involve what may be called the Global Ubiquitous Computer; it subsumes both the Internet and instrumented environments. Its name reflects the reasonable prediction that, within two decades, virtually all computing agents (heart-monitors, satellites, laptops, ...) will be interconnected, forming an organism that is partly artefact and partly natural phenomenon -- in either case one of the most complex ever constructed or studied. What models help us to understand it? What engineering principles can cope with the vast range of magnitudes involved?

My lecture will consider how to begin to address these two Challenges. Very many concepts are involved. They include authenticity, beliefs, connectivity, compilation, continuum, data-protection, delegation, duties, provenance, failure, intentions, locality, model-checking, mobility, obligations, reflectivity, security, simulation, specification, stochastics, trust, and many more.

Models are needed that explain and implement some of these concepts in terms of others. I shall end the lecture by describing some of my own work in modelling connectivity, locality and mobility. These notions arise naturally out of our existing models of concurrent computation, and can help to lay a foundation for global ubiquitous computation


Robin Milner graduated from Cambridge University, and has held positions at the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, Aarhus University, Stanford University and City University, London. He has an honorary degree from Göteborg University (Sweden) and is a member of the Royal Society. In 1992, the Association Computing Machinery, the leading computer science association, gave him its Turing Award. He has made fundamental contributions to information science and particularly to computer programming theory. In particular, his Logic for Computable Functions, universally referred to as LCF, is considered a milestone in the history of computer assisted logic and the instruments used in the formulation of assertions on programs, programming languages and computing systems. He also introduced ML (Meta-Language), a special programming language for the formulation of fundamental concepts in computer assisted logic. ML is widely used as a teaching language and as an advanced programming language for complex non-numerical problems. LCF and ML have inspired many of the languages and instruments used by computer designers, information system programmers and mathematicians working on non-trivial theorems.