Recognition of the Immune System
Generating Receptor Diversity
Affinity Maturation
Immune Memory
Tolerance of Self
Eliminating Intracellular Pathogens


The immune system is a highly complex and fascinating computational system that:

  • solves a unique problem in a unique way,
  • is highly distributed,
  • has no centralized control,
  • uses learning and memory,
  • and, is tolerant of self.

    Computer systems, and in particular, networks of computers, are becoming so complex that we are fast losing the ability to analyse and understand them in any detail. Developing solutions to solve the problems that we are encountering is becoming an increasingly difficult task. As the complexity of our systems approaches that of biological systems, it is only natural that we turn to biology for inspiration, for biological systems can provide a vast fund of knowledge developed over aeons of evolutionary experimentation. The immune system is a particularly sophisticated biological system, and one that we hope will provide us with inspiration for solving hard computer science problems, such as computer security.

    An Overview of the Immune System. © 1997 Steven A Hofmeyr

    Computer Science Department, Farris Engineering Building,
    University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131
    Phone: (505) 277-3112 Fax: (505) 277-6927