27
Feb
2014

After a successful first run last fall, the Computation Institute hosted a second round of lightning talks -- short talks about CI research and opportunities for students at UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory. This round of speakers focused on applications of computer and programming skills to areas ranging from social good to genomics to nanotechnology at CI centers and projects including Swift, Globus, the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship, and more.

26
Feb
2014

A pioneering new project at the University of Chicago and Oxford University, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will use data analysis techniques to develop a massive digital “commonplace book.” Identifying and analyzing these commonplaces will shed light on how knowledge spread and transformed in the early modern period, according to Robert Morrissey, one of the leaders of the “Commonplace Cultures” project.

25
Feb
2014

After a successful first run last fall, the Computation Institute hosted a second round of lightning talks -- short talks about CI research and opportunities for students at UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory. This round of speakers focused on applications of computer and programming skills to areas ranging from social good to genomics to nanotechnology at CI centers and projects including Swift, Globus, the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship, and more.

21
Feb
2014

The future of cities doesn’t fit easily within disciplinary boundaries. Traditionally, urban research has been the domain of social scientists, while architects, urban planners, and policymakers implement academic findings into real practice. But the rising availability of city data and the computation to model and simulate the complexity of cities brings new scientists and partners into the mix, opening up new possibilities for understanding, managing and building cities. For the AAAS 2014 session, “A New Era for Urban Research: Open Data and Big Computation,” CI Senior Fellow and Urban Center for Computation and Data director Charlie Catlett assembled an “all-star cast” of social scientists, computer scientists, and representatives from government and industry to illustrate these new partnerships. 

19
Feb
2014

In the big data race, biology and medicine are usually thought to lag far behind physics and astronomy. Particle accelerators and telescopes can generate petabytes of data each year, but no equivalent large instruments exist yet for the biomedical sciences. But as CI Faculty and Senior Fellow Robert Grossman pointed out to introduce “How Big Data Supports Biomedical Discovery,” his session at the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting, biology and medical researchers are quickly making up the data gap with a profusion of smaller instruments. The combined activity of gene sequencers, advanced imaging, electronic medical records, self-tracking devices and other technologies could soon produce a data stream even larger than those physicists and astronomers deal with today.

18
Feb
2014

The age of the single author paper is over. In fact, the age of the single laboratory paper may be over. Increases in scientific complexity, data and computation needs, and technology expenses make it harder and harder for small to medium-sized laboratories to “go it alone,” driving researchers to look beyond their bench for help.

17
Feb
2014

Over the decade since the completion of the Human Genome Project, next-generation sequencing has spurred the field of genomics to a faster and faster pace. Laboratories studying the genetics of disease can gather detailed data from more patients at a cheaper price than ever before, bringing scientists closer to new treatments and realizing the vision of personalized medicine. But even as the speed of sequencing shifts into a higher gear, other research tasks lag behind, producing unnecessary drag that prevents the science from truly taking flight.
 

13
Feb
2014

Brains and computers have a lot in common. Both systems produce great complexity and remarkable abilities from relatively simple building blocks, whether it’s the neuron or the transistor. Exploiting this similarity, scientists have long sought to create artificial intelligence that mimics the brain’s function, and machine learning experts drew inspiration from synaptic communication to create their own mathematical neural networks for solving difficult problems.

10
Feb
2014

The most memorable character in both the book and film versions of 2001: A Space Odyssey is not a human, but a glowing red circle. HAL 9000, short for Heuristically-programmed ALgorithmic computer, steals the show as the eerily lifelike and powerful computer in charge of the Discovery One spacecraft, even before it (spoiler alert) tries to kill off the astronauts in its care.

07
Feb
2014

Rapid improvements in computer speed and power leave even the world's most powerful supercomputers with a surprisingly brief career arc. Just six years ago, Argonne's 557-teraflops Intrepid Blue Gene/P was ranked the third-fastest computer in the world, powering research on climate, batteries, supernovae, and Parkinson's disease. But with the installation of Mira, a Blue Gene/Q machine more than 20 times faster than its ancestor, Intrepid's busy lifetime came to an end on December 31, 2013.