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Competitions Facilitate Real-time Science
Date:7/9/2010

In the age of ubiquitous communications technologies, it's inexplicable that the scientific literature evolves much as it did one hundred years ago. But perhaps competitions offer an effective solution. The best entry to a (still running) bioinformatics contest, requiring participants to pick genetic markers that correlate with a change in the severity of the HIV infection, had outdone the best methods in the scientific literature within a week and a half.

(PRWEB) July 9, 2010 -- In the age of ubiquitous communications technologies, it's inexplicable that the scientific literature evolves much as it did one hundred years ago. Competitions offer a promising way forward.

Kaggle is currently hosting a bioinformatics contest requiring participants to pick genetic markers that correlate with a change in the severity of the HIV infection. The best entry to this contest had outdone the best methods in the scientific literature within a week and a half. Whereas the scientific literature tends to evolve slowly (somebody writes a paper, somebody else tweaks that paper and so on), a competition inspires rapid innovation by introducing the problem to a wide audience.

So when this week the headlines announced the discovery of genetic markers that correlate with extreme longevity — what they missed was that the work took 15 years from beginning to publication. Had the study been run as a competition, with the raw data available to all, the results would have been generated in real time. Insights would have been
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