Systematic Biology

The biological science divisions of the AMNH (Invertebrate Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, and Paleontology) are involved in a broad variety of research projects concerning the evolutionary relationships of creatures of immense diversity, ranging from viruses, foraminifera, and sponges to arthropods, and vertebrates. The basic problem of reconstructing evolutionary trees falls into a class of problems known at NP-hard, i.e. non-deterministic polynomial-time hard. Researchers in these divisions are at the forefront of algorithmic innovation and implementation of combinatorial heuristics.

Researchers in the Invertebrate Zoology Division, lead by Chair Ward Wheeler have developed a series of heuristics to the tree-alignment problem and chromosomal alignment. These ideas (and other existing approaches) have been implemented in our open source, freely available POY software (Varon et al., 2010; ), which was preceded by MALIGN.