Notes: Bioinformatics Open Source Conference 2015 day 2 morning — Ewan Birney, Open Science and Reproducibility

I’m at the 2015 Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC) in Dublin, Ireland. BOSC is a two day community conference devoted to open source and open science. These are my notes on the morning session with a keynote from Ewan Birney and a section on Open Science and Reproducibility.

My other notes from the conference:


Big Data in Biology and why open source matters

Ewan Birney

Ewan is a founder of BOSC and former director of OpenBio, so we’re excited to have him giving a keynotes. We start with lots of stories and memories about his impact on the current set of community members in BOSC.

Ewan starts by reminding us that we’re going through a revolution. The cost of sequencing in 10 years dropped from millions to thousands: mansion versus season tickets to Arsenal. He is brilliantly good at describing the high level picture of the importance of sequencing technology and changes.

3 reasons why open source code matters:

  1. Scientific transperency: providing access to your data and analysis approach is a fundamental process of science
  2. Efficiency: library scale code re-use. It’s a careful art and need to do more than just make your code available. Bugs can have downstream consequences on conclusions – have an extra big job to avoid bugs so need to risk pool for key components.
  3. Community: sharing code allows people to specialize in specific areas, outlasts any individual’s contribution. Challenge is to fund and support these community projects.

Infrastructures are crucial and we only notice them when they fail. Hard to work on because you only hear about it when something is wrong. Life sciences is about small details: lots of data types, metadata. EMBL-EBI can scale in terms of data, but won’t scale in terms of people and expertise. ELIXIR makes this a joint problem tackled across Europe. The goal is to scale in terms of expertise and collaboration.

Now Ewan talks about his work on storing information in DNA. Dreamed up over beers, and then came up with ways to encode binary as DNA in small easily made chunks with redundancy. Stored picture of EBI, Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech, the Watson/Crick paper and Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Good questions around scaling and the cloud. Growing need to practice healthcare and work with research science. For access reasons, need fedarated systems that can share data. Will not be able to aggregate data, so need to make this future work for us.

Question about how to financially support open-source infrastructure developers. Need to look at how Linux/Apache foundations work and try to build off their success at supporting paid developers managing a larger volunteer community.

Open Science and Reproducibility

A curriculum for teaching Reproducible Computational Science bootcamps

Hilmar Lapp

There is a reproducibility issue in science – we’re not that good at reproducing results and it’s time consuming to do it. Reproducible science makes it easier and faster to build upon. Computationally it’s especially hard because of dependency and tool issues. Reproducible Science Curriculum Workshop and Hackathon in Durham aimed at improving this. The earlier you start doing this in a project, the more benefits it accrues to yourself. Promoting literate programming via IPython/RStudio/Knitr. Curriculum teaches both new users and those that have some expertise but could convince to switch to new approaches. Held two workshops so far: in May and June – changed to focus more on literate programming earlier since you didn’t need to convince people. There was a ton of awareness and demand for these courses. Future plans are to tweak and improve workshop, teach more. Need to figure out how to fund and sustain this effort – it’s funded through 2015. All materials available on GitHub.

Research shared:

Norman Morrison

Research Objects are part of a framework to enable reproducible, transpart objects. Want to have a manifest of materials/resources available inside research containers. The manifest is a plain text file full of dates, DOIs and links to resources about what it contains. Lots of scope for ontologies and naming. Tutorials and specifications for everything available on GitHub. Lots of cool use cases showing how make results fully computable and available. FAIR = Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reproducible. Awesome graph of the time costs of moving to reproducibility.

Nextflow: a tool for deploying reproducible computational pipelines

Paolo Di Tommaso

Nextflow provides a declarative syntax to write parallel and scalable workflows. It has a nice domain specific language (DSL) based on Dataflow. This is a declarative model for concurrent processes. Under the covers it uses async channels and handles parallelization implicitly by input/output definitions. Think of program like a network. Implicitly handles parallelizing over multiple inputs. It is platform agnostic, so scales out from multicore to all the standard cluster managers.

Why is it so hard to deploy a pipeline? Big issues: many dependencies that change quickly. To migigate this, manage a pipeline as a self-contained GitHub repository. Use Docker to manage tools. Provides a nice example pipeline on GitHub to demonstrate. GitHub provides versioning that feeds right into Nextflow.

Free beer today: how iPlant + Agave + Docker are changing our assumptions about reproducible science

John Fonner

John works on iPlant, tackling problems in cyberinfrastructure for the plant community. They have a bunch of storage and compute, API level services for command line access, then a web based user interface for interactivity. iPlant has a Discovery Environment for managing data and analysis history. Atmosphere is an open cloud for Life Sciences, can request additional resources. Agavi provides a programming interface for building things on top of iPlant. Handles pretty much everything you’d need to build on it. Uses Docker to store dependencies and tools alongside a GitHub repo with code. Agave is handling job provenance, sample data and platform integration along with sharing and cluster execution.

The 500 builds of 300 applications in the HeLmod repository will at least get you started on a full suite of scientific applications

Aaron Kitzmiller

Lots of ways to publish code, which is good. Problem is that there are so many different ways to install these that it take a lot of work to build them. Built HELmod on top of Lmod to manage a huge set of scientific dependencies for a clean environment. Has 500 specification files allowing installation of all these tools. Really nice shared resource – we should all be building modules together instead of at each facility. HELmod GitHub repo

Bioboxes: Standardised bioinformatics tools using Docker containers

Peter Belmann

bioboxes motivated by docker-based benchmarking projects (CAMI and Standards project to provide a way to specify inputs and outputs of boxes. This allows you to easily interchange tools for benchmarking. Nice community project for specifying these.

The perfect fit for reproducible interactive research: Galaxy, Docker, IPython

Björn Grüning

Björn talks about his brilliant work to combine Galaxy, IPython and Docker. Galaxy can run Docker containers and has a rich set of visualizations. What was missing was a way to interact and tweak your data. Invented the concept of an interactive environment in Galaxy – spins up Docker container that works against Galaxy data. This is a sharable Galaxy data object so has all those advantages. RStudio is also integrated if you prefer R over Python. Also has a Docker based way to install and use Galaxy quickly.

COPO: Bridging the Gap from Data to Publication in Plant Science

Robert Davey

Cultural issues to help get scientsits to deposit metadata. Idea: make it easier and more connected so there is a bigger benefit to users and overcome this cultural barrier. This allows you to build graphs of interconnected data, and track usage of your data. Can be helpful in describing the value of your data. COPO project.

ELIXIR UK building on Data and Software Carpentry to address the challenges in computational training for life scientists

Aleksandra Pawlik

Aleksandra has 1 slide for her lightning talk – brilliant. ELIXIR is adopting software carpentry as a training model. Really awesome to be spreading a single teaching model across multiple countries. It feels like finally we are not developing independent materials everywhere and can have good training for everyone.

Parallel recipes: towards a common coordination language for scientific workflow management systems

Yves Vandriessche

Yves builds tools for people who build tools. Scripts deal with the complexity of gluing together applications but we need more distributed jobs. The biggest issue in this move is ordering dependencies when running in parallel. Integrated CWL workflow specification into precipes. Code on GitHub.

openSNP – personal genomics and the public domain

Bastian Greshake

OpenSNP is about open data and personal genomics. The idea is to provide a way to upload and share genotype and phenotype data along with genotyping from 23andme. Mines SNPedia to provide useful feedback to users. Provides complete dumps of data and APIs. 2000 genetic datasets and 4000 people registered. Users have mined his data and provided back interpretations.


One thought on “Notes: Bioinformatics Open Source Conference 2015 day 2 morning — Ewan Birney, Open Science and Reproducibility

  1. Pingback: Notes: Bioinformatics Open Source Conference 2015 day 2 afternoon: Translational, Visualization and Lightning Talks | Small Change Bioinformatics

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