Thursday, 10 December 2009

A Knotty Problem

My PhD has had more drama than many operas.

There's a major genetic algorithm and evolutionary computation conference in the middle of next year, and I really need to get a paper in for that. The deadline is 12th Jan. So I need to get a wriggle on.

I was planning on using a problem from the AutoCRC - the automotive industry are funding my research after all. But they just said they won't have the information I need ready any time soon.

Worse, a group in the Netherlands I wasn't aware if turns out to be working in the same area - and have published their results, duplicating what I'd done so far (though by a different method), plus a lot more besides. Basically, of a 5-page paper I'd submitted to the IEEE detailing what I planned on doing, they covered the first page, with actual results and conclusions.

While it was nice to see my conjectures confirmed by experiment, the fact that they are miles ahead of me is a bit of a problem for me. Never mind, at least I know a group who can evaluate my work now. Must look on the bright side.

So... I had to quickly find another problem to work on. And lo and behold, the research school of chemistry (which did its best to gas me with an unholy mixture of organophosphates and ammonia recently) has just such a problem.

With luck, I should be able to get a paper out, and solve some computationally intractable problems for them at the same time. Things to do with predicting the shape of complex polymers. Who knows, it might even lead to being able to make designer hormones, proteins and the like in future, by calculating their minimal energy states - the knots and pther shapes they will gravitate towards.

Anyway, that's why blogging has been light recently. Real Life has gotten in the way.


Laserlight said...

You get exposed to an "unholy mixture" and then start solving intractable problems for that organization. I'm sensing an origin story for a superhero here.

Anonymous said...

You knew others have looked at what you were planning on doing.