The Shape of Phylogenetic Treespace

Katherine St. John, Lehman College (CUNY), New York

May 2, 2017

Trees are a canonical structure for representing evolutionary histories. Many popular criteria used to infer optimal trees are computationally hard, and the number of possible tree shapes grows super-exponentially in the number of taxa. The underlying structure of the spaces of trees yields rich insights that can improve the search for optimal trees, both in accuracy and running time, and the analysis and visualization of results. We review the past work on analyzing and comparing trees by their shape as well as recent work that incorporates trees with weighted branch lengths. This talk will highlight some of the elegant questions that arise from improving search and visualizing the results in this highly structured space.

This talk assumes no background in biology and all are welcome.