Intelligent Aids for Parallel Experiment Planning and Macromolecular Crystallization

Vanathi Gopalakrishnan, Bruce G. Buchanan, and John M. Rosenberg, University of Pittsburgh

This paper presents a framework called Parallel Experiment Planning (PEP) that is based on an abstraction of how experiments are performed in the domain of macromolecular crystallization. The goal in this domain is to obtain a good quality crystal of a protein or other macromolecule that can be X-ray diffracted to determine three-dimensional structure. This domain presents problems encountered in real- world situations, such as a parallel and dynamic environment, insufficient resources and expensive tasks. The PEP framework comprises of two types of components: (1) an information management system for keeping track of sets of experiments, resources and costs; and (2) knowledge-based methods for providing intelligent assistance to decision-making. The significance of the developed PEP framework is three-fold: (a) the framework can be used for PEP even without one of its major intelligent aids that simulates experiments, simply by collecting real experimental data; (b) the framework with a simulator can provide intelligent assistance for experiment design by utilizing existing domain theories; and (c) the framework can help provide strategic assessment of different types of parallel experimentation plans that involve different tradeoffs.


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