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Public Lecture by Susan Holmes on May 5


On May 5, Professor Susan Holmes from the Stanford Statistics Department will give a Public Lecture, “Breaking Codes and Finding Patterns”, in Cubberley Auditorium at 7:30pm. The theme of her lecture is encapsulated in the motto “if we can break any code then we can discover the secrets of life”.

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.


Stanford University Department of Mathematics
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