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SCIENCE BOOK DISCUSSION CLUB

The idea of the SCIENCE BOOK DISCUSSION CLUB

This has been going on for ages and we have gone through many works. We aim at meeting each morning before work and discuss for 90 minutes covering 10-20 pages and then we read next segment in the evening during Oxford Term (http://www.ox.ac.uk/about/facts-and-figures/dates-of-term). It is clearly very demanding, but we do cover a lot. At the end of the term making a lecture trying to summarise the book (like http://tinyurl.com/RECOMBINATORICS). Last term we also submitted a review to SIAM Review of the book.

The last 3 books we did were:

RECOMBINATORICS
BAYESIAN METHODS in STRUCTURAL BIOINFORMATICS
MOLECULAR EVOLUTION: A STATISTICAL APPROACH

These book readings have been very successful: One paper will be submitted due to an idea emerging from the last book. After finishing the 2nd book in March 2015 one Msc-student wrote a 70-page report on distributions on angles and one PhD student completely switched to focus on only this. And there are several open problems in the RECOMBINATORICS book that we finished in June 2015. One of the authors showed up for the discussions and we Skype/emailed with virtually all authors of the last 2 books and one very fruitful collaboration emerged.

In the Michaelmas 2015 Term we plan to cover 2 books by Mike Steel (the first one co-authored with Charles Semple):

Mike Steel and Charles Semple (2003) PHYLOGENETICS 220 p
Mike Steel (2016) MATHEMATICAL PHYLOGENY 250p

The latter book will only be published in Spring 2016, so I will most likely only distribute a physical copy of the next chapter each week. Let us see if Mike Steel can write faster than we can read. I expect it will be very rewarding to go through these books. Inferring the relationship of species/sequences is a very central objective in biology and is limited both by computation and by identifiability (different evolutionary histories can assign the same probability to different data). Distributions describing trees is of great interest presently and have been used to characterise the growth of virus infections and the speciation bursts of Mammals.

I am keen to continue with topics such as Game Theory, Ontologies, Causality, Global Survey of Languages, Neuroscience, Cancer,..

In is predominantly Oxford based in the sense that it is strongly preferable that the discussants can be in one room. Discussing per Skype can be accepted occasionally just so it doesn’t come to a halt every time somebody is travelling. But exceptions can be made. We use Dropbox to exchange larger pieces of text.

We aim at 6 participants. I apologize for announcing via Facebook and about 1/3 of the participants earlier are not on Facebook and will receive emails and at some point I might make a blog describing these journal and book clubs.


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