Marinka Zitnik

Fusing bits and DNA

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ACM XRDS: Exploring Data with Topological Tools

The Summer issue of ACM XRDS is here! This issue focuses on diversity in computer science. You will find columns about how to make the tech more inclusive, women in computing, self-teaching and how hip-hop lyrics can be used in combination with artificial intelligence to engage more students in computer science. Also, you should not miss the Features section! There, you will learn, among others, about a research project in Germany that integrates gender and diversity in STEM fields and read about how neuroscience has revealed that we sometimes judge others by their gender or ethnicity without even realizing it. What can be done to address these issues? Check out the ACM XRDS's advice.

For the computationally inspired among you I have contributed a column that describes one of many possible usages of computational topology for exploratory data analysis. Tools from topology increasingly serve to inspire the development of novel computational methods for data analysis. With these methods we can study qualitative geometric information of the data to understand how they are organized on a large scale and focus on intrinsic shape properties rather than on characteristics that depend on a particular choice of a coordinate system. The column applies a topological tool called Mapper to extract and visualize simple descriptions of data sets.