Biography of L. Andrew Coward

The lecturer has 35 years experience in research into the different aspects of the design of extremely complex electronic systems: system architecture and integrity; hardware and software system design, and design tools and environments. He has been carrying out research into the application of functionally complex system design technology to understanding biological brains, including the human brain, since 1982.

Over his career at Bell Northern Research and Nortel Networks from 1969 to 1998 he had a wide range of different research responsibilities related to the design of complex, real time systems. In semiconductors, these responsibilities included silicon process design, custom integrated circuit design, and design and testing environments for integrated circuit design. In software, responsibilities included software design, design tool design including compiler design, design environment design including library and build systems and trouble tracking, support tools including debugging tools. In hardware, responsibilities included printed circuit board design, system packaging and development of test tools. In system design, included system architecture design, and hardware and software integrity and reliability.

He left Nortel in 1998 in order to focus on his interests in applying the technology for understanding complex electronic systems to understanding the architecture of the human brain. Since then he has been an academic researcher in understanding the brain as a system and in the design of complex artificial intelligence  systems. Currently he is an Associate Professor at the Australian National University.

He has published twenty-seven scholarly papers and five book chapters in the area of brain research and artificial intelligence. He has also published three books in this area. His work develops an approach to understanding cognitive phenomena in terms of cellular chemistry, neuron physiology and brain anatomy, using techniques derived from the technology for designing extremely complex electronic systems. His most recent book was published by Springer late in 2013. This book, “Towards a Theoretical Neuroscience; from Cell Chemistry to Cognition”, reviews a wide range of research in systems theory, cognitive science, brain anatomy, physiology and neurochemistry with almost 1000 references, and demonstrates how to relate phenomenological descriptions of the brain on one level to the other levels.