Distance and mean in the Space of Phylogenetic Trees

SpeakerMegan Owen
Organization North Carolina State Universtiy
LocationEBII 1230
DateJanuary 22, 2010 1:00 PM

In 2001, Billera, Holmes, and Vogtmann introduced a continuous, geometric space of phylogenetic trees, in which there is a unique shortest path between any two points (trees) in this space. The length of this path is called the geodesic distance between phylogenetic trees. However, the complexity of computing this distance is an open problem. In this talk, I will give a polynomial time algorithm for finding the geodesic distance. This space is also non-positively curved, which ensures there is an average or mean tree for a given set of trees. I will also describe this mean tree, and how to compute it. This is joint work with Scott Provan and Ezra Miller.

Biography
Megan Owen holds a postdoctoral position at North Carolina State University and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI). She received her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Cornell University in 2008. In 2008-2009, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Algebraic Methods in Systems Biology and Statistics program at SAMSI. Her research is in geometric and combinatorial problems in computational biology, bioinformatics, and computer science.

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