Little b was designed and implemented by Aneil Mallavarapu, based on a proposal he developed at the Bauer Center for Genomics Research. These ideas led in part to formation of the Virtual Cell Program at Harvard Medical School. Since 2004, development and use of little b has continued there. Members of the Virtual Cell Group and others (see people) are using little b and developing new representation approaches.
The project is being developed as a free and open infrastructure, and is entirely funded by the Harvard Medical School Department of Systems Biology. The goal is to stimulate widespread sharing and reuse of formalized scientific information.
SBML The Systems Biology Markup Language is a related effort which allows encoding of molecular network models. Little b does not intend to duplicate the goals of this project. SBML is a data exchange format, based on XML, which allows different software programs to read and write models. Little b, on the other hand is software, based on Lisp, which provides an interactive programming environment. Little b files require the little b interpreter, and so are intended not for data exchange by programs, but rather as shareable documents to be read and written by people. SBML and little b are complementary technologies, and we anticipate the need for translation tools. In particular, we hope to provide a little b→SBML converter in an upcoming release.