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October 07, 2005
Life scientists today are as likely to be found crunching data at a computer keyboard as probing Petri dishes in a laboratory. It's also not uncommon to find a mathematician taking a break from equations to pore over a graduate-level genetics textbook.
To help its undergraduates prepare for these career-crossover demands, Michigan State University will use a $905,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to enhance undergraduate education at the intersection of biology and mathematics.
"With the growing need for scientists to work on fundamental biological problems using mathematical techniques, MSU stands to become the leader in producing such uniquely qualified individuals," said Peter Bates, professor and chairperson of the MSU Department of Mathematics and one of five principal investigators on the NSF project.
Advances in molecular biology, genetic regulatory networks, cell signaling and other rapidly developing areas in the biosciences are producing vast quantities of raw data.
For example, a single lab investigating proteins and their functions, a field called proteomics, can generate 12 terabytes of data in one year. That's about the same amount of information stored in the Library of Congress.
The challenge for scientists is to sift through this information to understand highly complex processes, many of which become clear only after sophisticated statistical analysis and data mining.
It's work with a big potential payoff, especially in the area of customized drug development. In basic research, too, fundamental processes in biology are often best described by mathematical formulas.
"Discovering and analyzing these formulas is at the core of many new developments in biomedical sciences," Bates said.
The problem, according to Bates, is mathematical modeling and analysis, computation and higher-level statistical techniques traditionally are not part of biologists' training. Likewise, mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists often are not familiar with even the basics of biology.
The five-year project, called "Integrated Analysis of Genetic and Cellular Networks," will provide undergraduate students with research experiences in both mathematical and biological sciences.
Eight juniors and eight seniors will be selected annually to participate. They will work together to solve biological problems -- understanding molecular structures and mechanisms, gene expression, metabolism and cell signaling -- using quantitative skills and software.
"These students, I am sure, will find personal satisfaction in being prepared to address problems that have a significant and direct impact on life," Bates said.
Along with Bates, the other principal investigators, all MSU faculty, are: Chichia Chiu, associate professor, and Moxun Tang, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics; Donna Koslowsky, associate professor, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics; and Kathleen Gallo, associate professor, Department of Physiology.
Jun 18, 2013 |
The world's largest supercomputers, like Tianhe-2, are great at traditional, compute-intensive HPC workloads, such as simulating atomic decay or modeling tornados. But data-intensive applications--such as mining big data sets for connections--is a different sort of workload, and runs best on a different sort of computer.
Jun 18, 2013 |
Researchers are finding innovative uses for Gordon, the 285 teraflop supercomputer housed at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) that has a unique Flash-based storage system. Since going online, researchers have put the incredibly fast I/O to use on a wide variety of workloads, ranging from chemistry to political science.
Jun 17, 2013 |
The advent of low-power mobile processors and cloud delivery models is changing the economics of computing. But just as an economy car is good at different things than a full size truck, an HPC workload still has certain computing demands that neither the fastest smartphone nor the most elastic cloud cluster can fulfill.
Jun 14, 2013 |
For all the progress we've made in IT over the last 50 years, there's one area of life that has steadfastly eluded the grasp of computers: understanding human language. Now, researchers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) are utilizing a Hadoop cluster on its Longhorn supercomputer to move the state of the art of language processing a little bit further.
Jun 13, 2013 |
Titan, the Cray XK7 at the Oak Ridge National Lab that debuted last fall as the fastest supercomputer in the world with 17.59 petaflops of sustained computing power, will rely on its previous LINPACK test for the upcoming edition of the Top 500 list.
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Join HPCwire Editor Nicole Hemsoth and Dr. David Bader from Georgia Tech as they take center stage on opening night at Atlanta's first Big Data Kick Off Week, filmed in front of a live audience. Nicole and David look at the evolution of HPC, today's big data challenges, discuss real world solutions, and reveal their predictions. Exactly what does the future holds for HPC?
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