Neil Gershenfeld, the head of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, gave today’s keynote address. To summarize Gershenfeld’s lecture: the killer app of digital fabrication is personal fabrication. Gershenfeld highlighted the MIT FabLabs, and gave examples of boundary-breaking personal computation: wallpaper computers, analog computers, and ad-hoc clusters. This is one of the most compelling keynote lectures I’ve seen. If you’re interested in Neil Gershenfeld, click here to watch his 2007 TED talk.
Alexandros P. Stamatakis presented a paper titled, “Large-scale Maximum Likelihood-based Phylogenetic Analysis on the IBM BlueGene/L”. Stamatakis and his team created a parallel implementation of RAxML on the BlueGene/L. Although I’ve used several software packages for phylogenetic tree construction, I was unaware of RAxML. According to Stamatakis’ publications, RAxML is qualitatively comparable and computationally faster than my current software of choice: Mr. Bayes and PHYML. After hearing Stamatakis’ presentation, I’m interested to use RAxML in one of my current projects, which requires the construction of thousands of phylogenies.
In a related paper session, I learned about the BlueBrain Project, an attempt to computationally simulate every neuron in a mammalian brain. The BlueBrain Project is very ambitious, given the computational complexity of mammalian neurology. (See the image below).