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Adopting gridMathematica to Explore Large-Scale Questions in Human Immunity

Challenge
Perform more in-depth, varied investigation of immune system and parasite co-evolution.
Solution
Use gridMathematica to reduce computation time and enable the study of more conditions and strains than would otherwise be possible.
Benefits
Help inform flu vaccination protocol design
Explore fundamental science of parasite-host co-evolution
The Mathematica Edge
Utilize one single computing environment for research and teaching needs
Greatly increase calculation power with minimal changes to existing programs
Emphasize conceptual ideas and save valuable time

Troy Day is an assistant professor in mathematics and biology at Queen's University. He investigates parasite-host relationships throughout the animal kingdom, and is currently studying how flu strains influence changes in the human immune system. In the wake of SARS and shortages of flu vaccine, his work is leading to better understanding of human immunostatus, which affects how susceptible we are to flu and other pathogens.

Q: How do you use Mathematica in your work?
A: My primary research interests are in developing mathematical theory in evolutionary biology. One way to test this analytical theory is to create virtual populations with Mathematica and then perform various experimental manipulations on these populations to see what happens. A main area that my lab is working in right now is host-parasite co-evolution, and we can see whether or not populations evolve the way we expect them to based on our simplified analytical models by using these numerical experiments.

Q: You've been using Mathematica since 1999. What favorite feature or function do you use the most?
A: I don't have any one feature that is my favorite. What sold me on Mathematica is the all-in-one computing environment--I can do my computations, programming, and reporting without having to learn other software programs or interface with other programs for different tasks. That was a huge appeal. It's really very nice.

Q: What advantages do you expect to gain from using gridMathematica?
A: I do some computationally intensive experiments with Mathematica and they can be quite time consuming, especially when run on a single machine. I do expect to see considerable time improvements, but even more than that, gridMathematica will allow me to do things I wouldn't otherwise do. With each additional condition I need to investigate, the variables do not increase linearly--they start to explode. So I am restricted from exploring big spaces, and gridMathematica will enable me to do that.



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