Thursday, 6 February 2014

Final year computer science projects

This term I'm supervising 5 final year student projects. They have one term (just over 3 months) in which to really create something they can be proud of. It's not long, especially when they have to get to grips with new terminology, new equipment, reading and research, specification, design, implementation and experiments, testing, documentation and reflection. They're also asked to keep progress diaries or blogs and use version control to manage their projects.

I've very excited about the projects this year, they're all diverse and fun:

  • Using information theory and machine learning to recognise quality control issues in next gen sequencing lanelets (together with Joshua Randall, Sanger Institute)
  • Analysis of the content of NLW's digitised newspapers collection
  • Modelling insect choice among plants (together with Lizzy Donkin and John Warren in IBERS)
  • A model of the brain of C. elegans that we can play with as a talking point in AI discussions with the public.
  • Using image processing and microscope webcams to determine the growth of yeast in microtitre plates.

Hopefully, we'll have some good results by May!

Bioinformatics and computational biology: 500 years of exciting problems?

I gave a talk at Warwick University, Department of Computer Science in January 2014. A look at the intertwining of computer science and biology from the days of Turing through the present and on to the future, including some of my research along the way. 
In a 1993 interview, Donald Knuth worried that computer science in the future will be "pretty much working on refinements of well-explored things", whereas "Biology easily has 500 years of exciting problems to work on". I'll describe some of the bioinformatics and computational biology that I've been working on. My talk included a little about where the field has come from, where it's going in the future, and whether it should be considered a branch of computer science at all.
The slides are online at Figshare.