Life and Death Computing

Instructor: Ira J. Kalet, Ph.D.
Professor, Radiation Oncology
Professor, Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics
Adjunct Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, and Biological Structure

Office: EE122H University of Washington Medical Center


Telephone: (206) 598-4107

Course description

A Syllabus includes most of the information here (except for the web resources below) in a single PDF document.

This course addresses the complex software design issues that come up in biomedical and health informatics, programming for safety critical applications in medicine and health care, as well as in the application of computing to unlock the secrets of life. Examples from biology, medicine and health motivate software engineering topics such as: use of abstraction layers, design of tightly coupled but modular and extensible software, formal models and safety in real time control of medical equipment, design of network application protocols, integration of diverse biomedical data sources.

Many of the examples will use the Common Lisp programming language, but prior knowledge of Lisp is not assumed. The course introduces programming in Common Lisp as well as concepts and methods useable in most programming languages and environments. If time allows the Prolog programming language will also be introduced and used.

Grading and other policies

Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Information for Honors 396 Autumn 2010

The HONORS 396 C Autumn 2010 information page provides links to slides, homework assignments and other useful information for the Autumn 2010 quarter, when this course was taught.


The course assumes some previous programming experience. However, it is not important which programming language you know, as long as you have some experience with at least one. In addition, the course requires certain basic computing skills and mathematical background. These are listed on the Prerequisites page.

Course learning objectives

A list of course learning objectives illustrates what students are expected to be able to know and do by the end of the course.

Web resources on biomedical informatics projects

Web resources on Lisp

Some links for more information on Common Lisp and related topics are on the Common Lisp information page