Archive for October, 2008

Software Engineering in Biological Modelling

October 24, 2008

I recently gave a talk in the Glasgow Computing Science Department about Biological Model Engineering: using techniques from software engineering in biological modelling.

Of course, I don’t work in this area anymore. Although I find a lot of this stuff very interesting, I still can’t bring myself to want to be back working in research computing (as opposed to research using computing). Getting any of these ideas off the ground in a research environment would take a long time and it would be difficult to maintain the necessary publication rate.

I can imagine doing this kind of work from within a commercial organisation doing modelling. Then, you can meet the modelling teams and immediately start gathering requirements, researching the techniques and deploying tools that will make a difference. You’ll know very quickly whether you’re successful – people will tell you. In academia, you have the slow upward plod of trying to find the projects to work with, finding people who care about what you’re doing and, the real killer, convincing conferences that this is real research and needs to be published.

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When Spreadsheets Go Bad

October 2, 2008

As usual, Slashdot proves that although it’s designed for slacking purposes, it often contains useful information on innovations, experience and best practice. In this case, it’s spreadsheets and a link to an interesting article about how they can be abused.

No doubt I will need to use this article in anger in the future. I’m already beginning to wonder how easy it is to slurp spreadsheets/csv files into a database so I can do in 3 lines of SQL what currently takes me 50 lines of Python.

EDIT: Somebody got a pubmed publication out of this.