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Computer-generated image wins the Best Artwork Award at ISMB 2014

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23 July 2014

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The Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) is the world's largest bioinformatics/computational biology conference. ISMB 2014 was held on Boston, attracting top computational biology researchers from around the world. As part of this annual conference, the Art & Science Exhibition displays images and videos (called "artworks") that are supposed to be results of creative efforts that involve scientific concepts or tools. This exhibition aims to open our eyes and minds, both scientifically and aesthetically.

Based on real-world genome-wide expression data, the artwork supraHex is automatically produced by an open-source R/Bioconductor package under the same name. This artwork is inspired by the prevalence of natural objects such as a honeycomb or at Giant's Causeway, also capturing mechanistic nature of these objects: formation probably in a self-organising manner.

Apart from the artwork itself, the package can do more, outlined as follows: i) the supra-hexagonal map trained via a self-organising learning algorithm; ii) visualisations at and across nodes of the map; iii) partitioning of the map into gene meta-clusters; iv) sample correlation on 2D sample landscape; and v) overlaying additional data onto the trained map for exploring relationships between input and additional data. It is freely available at