Interdisciplinary Distinguished Lecturer: Megan Owen

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Distance and mean in the Space of Phylogenetic Trees

Megan Owen, Postdoctoral Associate at North Carolina State University
North Carolina State Universtiy

Megan Owen spoke on Friday, January 22nd, 2010 at 1:00PM in Engineering Building II, Room 1230

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.