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Past Events Summary

  • Guest Seminar:
    The Application of Unstructured Learning Techniques to Bioinformatics and Conceptual Biology

    Tony Smith, Computer Science Department, The University of Waikato
    Wednesday, 12th March, 2003.

    Biotechnology tops the list of both publicly and privately funded research projects in many countries around the world. The arduous job of transcribing genes and proteins has been in full-gear for a long time, creating an abundance of raw biochemical data. But the essential analysis of all that primary sequence information continues to lag ever-further behind.

    Computer science (in particular its machine learning and data mining techniques) continues to offer significant promise as a means to help speed up genomic/proteomic analysis. Heuristic pattern-matching, dynamic programming, neural networks, and so forth have been the dominant methods employed, and have proven effective for detecting structural regularities and dependencies. But they are entirely unsuited to address the paramount goal of biochemical research: the prediction of genetic roles and protein functions.

    This talk will describe how unstructured learning techniques can solve a wide range of bioinformatic problems, including those both solvable and unassailable by structured approaches. Real-time demonstrations will be used to show how a system designed to categorize unstructured textual documents can be made to predict such things as glycosylation sites and signal cleavage points in proteins, and correlate functional similarities for disparate proteins after the fashion of conceptual biology.

  • Guest Seminar:
    Robot Mapping

    Margaret Jefferies, Computer Science Department, The University of Waikato
    Friday, 13th September 2002.

    For those of us who couldn't make it:

    Margaret's talk was well attended. She gave a clear understandable overview of the approach her team were taking to the challenge of getting a lone robot to 'discover' and map the environment it finds itself in. The idea is to build a cognitive map of local space representations. She finished with two clearly defined open problems and suggested possible solutions that will be investigated here at Waikato. A number of interesting questions were asked later and the discussion moved on to the Station. Margaret communicates with the leading researchers in robotics and is involved in work that is breaking new ground. There are several 4th year and Masters level projects available and these will lead to work at the PhD level. We're seeing the beginnings of an exciting robotics program here at Waikato.

    By the way, I believe the robot is equipped with a pentium, 256 MB RAM and runs Linux (what else?). Programs are written in C/C++. All the drivers come with the system so the programming is on a high-level concentrating on the interesting issues.

    A BIG thank you to John and Craig who pulled out all stops to get the message out. (We even had Dr Jorgensen from Stats). Thanks also to Dr Matt for ensuring that the staff were informed.
    Cheers, Sid.

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