Abstract: There are estimated to be on the order of 10 6 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) existing as standing variation in the human genome. Certain combinations of these SNPs can interact in complex ways to predispose individuals for a variety of common diseases, even though individual SNPs may have no ill effects. Detecting these epistatic combinations is a computationally daunting task. Trying to use individual or growing subsets of SNPs as building blocks for detection of larger combinations of purely epistatic SNPs (e.g., via genetic algorithms or genetic programming) is no better than random search, since there is no predictive power in subsets of the correct set of epistatically interacting SNPs. Here, we explore the potential for hill-climbing from the other direction; that is, from large sets of candidate SNPs to smaller ones.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).