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June 29th, 2012

At the Data & Knowledge Systems (DAKS) group, we conduct and apply computer science research to the creation, organization, management, and use of information in the natural sciences. Our R&D focus is in scientific workflow automation, scientific data management, and (semantic) data integration. Members of DAKS are working at the UC Davis Genome Center and the Department of Computer Science at UC Davis.

Our projects involve three distinct activities that inform and depend upon each other:

  1. working directly with representatives of scientific communities to address information technology challenges;
  2. identifying general information-technology problems within these communities and performing the theoretical work needed to solve them and
  3. providing well-engineered systems that implement these solutions.

 

Collaboration with domain scientists

In many of our projects we work closely with domain scientists to understand and address their computing needs. As we work with these researchers, we attempt to answer the following questions.

  • What specific tasks do they need to accomplish?
  • How do they conceptualize their field?
  • What general kinds of tasks do they carry out routinely?
  • What parts of the researcher’s work is not routine, i.e., not fixed throughout a project?
  • What technologies have they used in the past and what limitations did they discover?
  • In an ideal world, how would they envision applying information technologies?

Grounded in this way, we identify existing and new approaches to address our collaborators’ needs. This normally involves both the development of well-engineered software systems and carrying out novel computer science research.

 

Advancing computer science theory

While the detailed information technology needs of different scientific disciplines vary widely, working with domain scientists inevitably reveals general problems faced by broader groups of researchers. We aim at providing generic solutions to these commonly encountered problems, which often requires applying computer science results in novel ways and solving new research problems.

Software engineering

We aim to deliver practical solutions to the data management and computational challenges faced by our domain scientist collaborators. To this end, we gather and model use cases and requirements, design and implement production software systems, and assist scientists deploying and using the software we develop. Much of our development takes place in the context of larger collaborations and scientists and engineers at other at other institutions (e.g., the Kepler collaboration).