Much has been said about (and blamed upon) communication problems between biologists and computer scientists. But after attending a meeting with biologists and computer scientists this week, I am starting to suspect that the problem isn’t just communication.

The main problem may be that there is often a conflict of interests. From a computer science point of view, biology may seem like a perfect testing ground for interesting theories. But there seems to be little interest in compromising the purity of any theories, even though theories often need to be watered down to make them useful (consider relational databases). Moreover, the most challenging theories may not be the ones that help address the most pressing issues biologists face.

Biologists on the other hand often couldn’t care less if something is implemented in a sound manner or not (even though it should be in their long term interest to do so).

Then there are people like me, who don’t care if the biology makes sense – if people find it useful – and who don’t care if the computer science is sound – if it works :-)