Past Meetup

Breaking Codes & Finding Patterns: Prof Susan Holmes, Stats & BioX, Stanford Uni

This Meetup is past

37 people went

What we'll do


TIME: 4:45 for refreshments followed by talk at 5:00PM, Thursday 16 November, 2017
COST: Free
VENUE: Queensland University of Technology, Gardens Point Campus, O Block, Room 412 Members and guests are welcome to join the speaker afterwards at a nearby restaurant.

TITLE: Breaking Codes and Finding Patterns

SPEAKER: Susan Holmes, Professor of Statistics and member of BioX, Stanford University.

We can learn from the master codebreakers who solved the intricacies of the Enigma encryption machine during World War II how to leverage patterns using mathematics and statistics. In the same way that the Poles mined hexagram patterns to discover the Enigma machine’s wiring, today’s scientists mine DNA patterns to unravel the cancer genome.
Turing and his fellow codebreakers used graphs and alignments to prepare their data for the use of the Bombe machine, and his use of Bayes factors and diversity indices are still part of today’s modern data analytic toolbox. I will show how these are even relevant to the study of complex biological systems such as the human microbiome or the immune system.

Trained in the French school of Data Analysis in Montpellier, Susan Holmes has been working in non parametric multivariate statistics applied to Biology since 1985. She has taught at MIT, Harvard and was an Associate Professor of Biometry at Cornell before moving to Stanford in 1998. She teaches the Thinking Matters class: Breaking Codes and Finding patterns and likes working on big messy data sets, mostly from the areas of Immunology, Cancer Biology and Microbial Ecology. Her theoretical interests include applied probability, MCMC (Monte Carlo Markov chains), Graph Limit Theory, Differential Geometry and the topology of the space of Phylogenetic Trees.


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