Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PPSN X - A Luso Highlight

Jorge Tavares has posted his personal summary of PPSN X event. See it here.

He says everything was O.K. along the whole event and praises the PPSN approach concerning poster presentations.

It's interesting: Jorge's summary is the fourth, at least, to point a positive statement of PPSN. So far, PPSN X has received, as long as I am aware of, no negative reviews from the bloggers I know of (JJ, Togelius, and Jorge Tavares). Maybe, it could be a model for others conferences following the evolutionary computation venue.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

PPSN X In Pictures

Our friend, Juan Julián Merelo Guervós, has put on line the nice pictures he took while attending to PPSN X. See his gallery here.

I think the picture above shows Professor Hans-Paul Schwefel's back and the PPSN X attendees are gathering at the backyard of Schwefel's house. (Am I right, JJ?)

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Evolving Virtual Creatures Through Simulated Evolution

Interesting project this one:

"This application is an example of evolutionary computing that you can run on your own Windows PC at home (see the download section). It uses a process similar to biological evolution to gradually evolve a population of virtual creatures in a 3D graphical and physical environment. Much of the inspiration for this project came from the wonderful work of Karl Sims. In the mid 90's Dr. Sims did something very similar, using an evolutionary algorithm to evolve the body plans and control systems of virtual creatures whose bodies were composed of jointed blocks. His creatures were evolved in simulated land and water environments for their ability to swim, walk, jump, follow a light source, and compete against opponents for control of a resource. See the related projects section for links some videos from Dr. Sims and links to other virtual creature evolution projects).

With this program you can watch a process of simulated Darwinian evolution unfold before your eyes (although the process can take several days of computer time depending on your computer speed and your evolution settings). The user is given control of many of the parameters of the evolution such as the size of the creature population, the mutation rate, the ability for which the creatures will be evolved, and many other settings. Users are encouraged to send me any interesting creatures they should happen to produce for inclusion in the Zoo. There are already numerous strange and interesting virtual creatures on display there, with many more to come."

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PPSN X - Even More Personal Highlights

Our blog friend, Juan Julián Merelo Guervós, has written some very nice personal highlights on PPSN X, see them here and here.

He comments on the organization of the event and upon the quality of the papers accepted to be shown at PPSN.

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Ride The Lightning

A lightning struck near my backyard last Friday! It blown up my ADSL modem and my LCD monitor too, I even heard a sound like that one when someone explodes a balloon. It is what I get for living less than 2 degrees below the Equator line. Rain falls almost everyday and lightning follows it.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

PPSN X - More Personal Highlights

Our blog friend, Julian Togelius, who is attending PPSN X, has posted another view of his concerning that conference, see it here.

In this post, Julian draws a critique among the three major evolutionary computation conferences (CEC, GECCO, and PPSN) concerning the kind and quality level of papers sent to them.

For his previous reports, follow this link.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

PPSN X - Personal Highlights

Our blog friend and official viking, Julian Togelius, has posted his first impressions on PPSN X event. See his summaries here and here.

Our another blog friend, Juan Julián Merelo Guervós (call him JJ, for short), organized a singing contest among the attendees and is the official PPSN DJ chair.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

PPSN X - Parallel Problem Solving from Nature 10th Edition

It has already began the 10th edition of the PPSN conference which was started in 1990. See the current edition site here. For a log upon the past editions, see here

It is being held at the Technical University of Dortmund (TUD, former Uni-Dortmund) and you can check the accepted papers here. It seems there will be a wide range of topics on evolutionary computation.

By the way, check the blog entry by our blog friend Juan Julián Merelo Guervós on PPSN X here. Another blog entry here, by Jorge Tavares.

Professor Hans-Paul Schwefel is the PPSN X honorary chair

Let's wait for more blogging from Dortmund at the PPSN X. [Estoy confiando en ti, JJ! Don't disapoint me! :) ]

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Evolving Architecture Through Simulated Evolution

Very good post this one, see it here.

It deals with the optimization of an acoustic shell which delivers the best sound distribution along the space it covers. The author used a genetic algorithm to tune the parameters.

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Evolving Fish Swimming Through Simulated Evolution

Great story about a robot tuna which has its parameters set up by a genetic algorithm. See the link below:

MIT Ocean Engineering - RoboTuna.

It reminds me of an earlier post here:

Evolving Design Through Simulated Evolution.

An excerpt from the robot tuna case:

"The third and final phase is a search for the optimum swimming performance obtainable within the physical limits imposed by the design of the RoboTuna and the length of the existing testing tank. The current analytical intractability of the fluid dynamics of this problem indicated that the most pragmatic way to proceed would be to optimize the body wave controller experimentally. In simple terms, given the seven parameters which control the swimming body wave, this can be thought of as an experimental search through seven dimentional space. This large number of dimensions quickly creates a massive logistics problem (about 282,475,249 combinations of parameters).

Given that it takes approximately 5 minutes to make a single experimental run down the tank, it would take a time frame in the order of millions of years to perform a blind search through all the combinatorial possiblities in the persuit of an optimum (it is no coincidence that this is about the same amount of time it took for the biological tuna to evolve to its present form). Obviously a more efficient search mechanism is needed, in orger to find the optimum before either time ran out or the apparatus failed mechanically. After a survey of many existing multidimensional space search techniques, a robust, seft-optimizing system based on a Genetic Algorithm was developed."

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Geophysics, Here I Go!

Maybe, it is too much early for a definitive decison on which field I should choose. BUT, thinking a little of some key factors, I consider geophysics would be much more interesting to me than a bioinformatics adventure in the unknown.

Being pretty honest, I have curiosity about geophysics, what I have not felt so far when it comes to bioinformatics.

The figure of this post is a phenomenon strongly related to geophysics: An wave. It is The Great Wave off Kanagawa

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Day Off - Updated

Today, I went to the bioinformatics class which I am only attending without having enrolled in it. The professor did not come and gave us no excuses for his absence. I consider the more the professor shows he is committed to the subject, the more he can catch the attention and hearts of students.

I am almost to the point of not going to those classes anymore. I feel it will be fruitless to me and that it would be much more sensible to prepare me to do the admission exam on geophysics.

A little update here: As my blog friend, Juan Julián Merelo Guervós, said in the comments box, the bioinformatics professor's absence has to do with one of the Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth! :)

Well, it is very plausible. :)

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Bioinformatics

As I am concerned with applying for a bioinformatics MSc., so I am looking for informations of that field, mainly those ones providing a critique panorama of its current (and, of course, future) trends and games. What I have most heard is that bioinformatics is the future, the 21st Century Job, it will help to replace the petrochemical industry bringing to us an alternative energy resource which is not only green, but, also, renewable, and so on. Despite all those positive remarks, I am not interested in them. I want to know critique statements about that field, what is hard to find out when talking to bioinformaticians here, since what they have told makes me feel as though I was in a Marlboro ad. :)

I have found a very interesting presentation about the deadly sins of bioinformatics, see this link:

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Bioinformatics.

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Bioinformatics are the following:

01. Parochialism And Insularity
02. Exceptionalism
03. Autonomy Or Death!
04. Vanity: Pride And Narcissism
05. Monolith Megalomania
06. Scientific Method Sloth
07. Instant Gratification

Gosh! A bioinformatics laboratory being the lair of at least one of those sins could become a hard place to social interaction.

By the way, the presentation is a nice overview of what is happening nowadays in bioinformatics, its current research situation and the views the computer science guys have of the biology guys (and vice-versa).

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The Grad School

That's it!

Next year, I shall be applying for some interesting course in Grad School. Despite the current fad in Brazil concerning the New Wave Of Public Exams to be admitted into one of the three major public Brazilian services (municipality, state, or federal), I would not feel comfortable after five years studying to get my BA. degree on computer/computing engineering to work in something that has little to nothing to do with engineering at all.

I am still a little hesitating upon geophysics or bioinformatics, both of them are amazing fields, but I must take into account the local academic environment and establishment of one and other at my university. The geophysics MSc. is a well established programme and it holds a very good critical mass of geophysicits - in addition, they make big engineering projects (sincerely, those guys are much closer to big engineering than the engineers themselves here).

The bioinformatics MSc. is just in its beginning and, to be honest, I dislike some engineering professors involved in it (for example, once, one of those professors, during a professor meeting, ordered another one to shut his mouth, because the other guy did not have any projects that would bring money to the department, then he could not say his opinion. Veeeeery democratic, isn't it?).

I am aware that I should not "complain" about those engineering professors, but just being completely blind not to see they have little interest in building a local excellence, what the guys from geophysics have already made, and, in my humble opinion, those professors only want to get the money coming from government agencies sponsoring biotech academic projects - it is a new fad happening in Brazil's universities. The professors from the biological sciences center have big bioinformatics ambitions, even telling us that we should seek some way to start up a bioinformatics business of our own. However, when looking at the local bioinformatics business opportunities, we feel anything but unmotivated. The bioscience guys have contributed on interesting genome endevour, such as the gene sequencing of Xylella fastidiosa. I am still thinking if I get into the bioinformatics grad school or not.

One of the key factors that leads me toward geophysics is the fact that in Brazil there are big oil/petroleum companies, such as Petrobras. Bioinformatics is still an activity being mainly sponsored by the Federal Brazilian Government (EMBRAPA, MCT, etc.) and its private ventures are very few. Sure, while it may seem a fruitless bioinformatics field for someone, it could be, by the other hand, a business opportunity before the eyes of another person, a chance to start a business from scratch - I am well aware of those two facets. The main consideration living in my mind these days is that I must make a choice and this choice will affect, likely, my whole life. So, I need to do a sensible choice, what is not easy. There are so many stuffs to ponder.

Early this year, I went to visit the geosciences center and the professor which accepted to be my advisor, as long as I apply for geophysics, treated me in a very very good manner. I liked the way we talked to each other, I felt as though I was his friend since a long time. He invited me to enter his office, to take a sit, and explain my situation. He heard everything, taking heed of each word I said. Few engineering professors treated me like he did.

On the other hand, when visiting the guys responsible for the bioinformatics MSc. programme, I felt like a a being from another planet. The woman who talked to me, told me very inaccurate informations concerning the bioinfo grad programme. Being honest, I disliked the way we interacted. A little more and she would be treading the grounds of impoliteness. I did not get a nice first impression of it.

I feel that I will end up applying for geophysics. BUT, let's see what will happen in the near future and see what field will receive the laurels of evolutionary computation...


Personal Observations Upon Brazilian Public Service Admission Exams:

It's interesting how lawyers are well paid in Brazilian public services. Often, their salary range from US$ 3000.00 to US$ 6500.00 per month! At Petrobras - one of the most well-paying Brazilian corporations -, an engineer holding just a BA. degree can earn US$ 2150.00 per month! The funniest stuff is that an engineer can agregate knowledge and innovation to a given product, what helps to increase the product's value, while a public service lawyer is only eating away the contributors' money and, at least when it comes to Brazil, they do not deliver a good job, since their profession at service public level is full of corruption, bribery, lobby, ill will, and etc. Of course, there are very good lawyers in Brazil, but the majority is working for the private sector.

That's Brazil!

P.S: I wonder what an American entrepreneur and/or American venture would think about devoting one's life to eat away the contributors money instead of start a new business. My bet: A waste of time and, sure, money! :)


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