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Breaking Codes and Finding Patterns

Professor Holmes; Enigma machine in display case.

Apr 5 2016

Posted In:

Faculty, In the News

Professor Susan Holmes, Department of Statistics, Mathematical & Computational Science adviser and program director.

May 5, 2016

7:30pm to 8:30pm

Cubberley Auditorium


Abstract: 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.