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1.  Distilling structure in Taverna scientific workflows: a refactoring approach 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15(Suppl 1):S12.
Background
Scientific workflows management systems are increasingly used to specify and manage bioinformatics experiments. Their programming model appeals to bioinformaticians, who can use them to easily specify complex data processing pipelines. Such a model is underpinned by a graph structure, where nodes represent bioinformatics tasks and links represent the dataflow. The complexity of such graph structures is increasing over time, with possible impacts on scientific workflows reuse. In this work, we propose effective methods for workflow design, with a focus on the Taverna model. We argue that one of the contributing factors for the difficulties in reuse is the presence of "anti-patterns", a term broadly used in program design, to indicate the use of idiomatic forms that lead to over-complicated design. The main contribution of this work is a method for automatically detecting such anti-patterns, and replacing them with different patterns which result in a reduction in the workflow's overall structural complexity. Rewriting workflows in this way will be beneficial both in terms of user experience (easier design and maintenance), and in terms of operational efficiency (easier to manage, and sometimes to exploit the latent parallelism amongst the tasks).
Results
We have conducted a thorough study of the workflows structures available in Taverna, with the aim of finding out workflow fragments whose structure could be made simpler without altering the workflow semantics. We provide four contributions. Firstly, we identify a set of anti-patterns that contribute to the structural workflow complexity. Secondly, we design a series of refactoring transformations to replace each anti-pattern by a new semantically-equivalent pattern with less redundancy and simplified structure. Thirdly, we introduce a distilling algorithm that takes in a workflow and produces a distilled semantically-equivalent workflow. Lastly, we provide an implementation of our refactoring approach that we evaluate on both the public Taverna workflows and on a private collection of workflows from the BioVel project.
Conclusion
We have designed and implemented an approach to improving workflow structure by way of rewriting preserving workflow semantics. Future work includes considering our refactoring approach during the phase of workflow design and proposing guidelines for designing distilled workflows.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-15-S1-S12
PMCID: PMC4016501  PMID: 24564760
2.  The Taverna workflow suite: designing and executing workflows of Web Services on the desktop, web or in the cloud 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(Web Server issue):W557-W561.
The Taverna workflow tool suite (http://www.taverna.org.uk) is designed to combine distributed Web Services and/or local tools into complex analysis pipelines. These pipelines can be executed on local desktop machines or through larger infrastructure (such as supercomputers, Grids or cloud environments), using the Taverna Server. In bioinformatics, Taverna workflows are typically used in the areas of high-throughput omics analyses (for example, proteomics or transcriptomics), or for evidence gathering methods involving text mining or data mining. Through Taverna, scientists have access to several thousand different tools and resources that are freely available from a large range of life science institutions. Once constructed, the workflows are reusable, executable bioinformatics protocols that can be shared, reused and repurposed. A repository of public workflows is available at http://www.myexperiment.org. This article provides an update to the Taverna tool suite, highlighting new features and developments in the workbench and the Taverna Server.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt328
PMCID: PMC3692062  PMID: 23640334
3.  Toward interoperable bioscience data 
Nature genetics  2012;44(2):121-126.
To make full use of research data, the bioscience community needs to adopt technologies and reward mechanisms that support interoperability and promote the growth of an open ‘data commoning’ culture. Here we describe the prerequisites for data commoning and present an established and growing ecosystem of solutions using the shared ‘Investigation-Study-Assay’ framework to support that vision.
doi:10.1038/ng.1054
PMCID: PMC3428019  PMID: 22281772
4.  A Roadmap for caGrid, an Enterprise Grid Architecture for Biomedical Research 
caGrid is a middleware system which combines the Grid computing, the service oriented architecture, and the model driven architecture paradigms to support development of interoperable data and analytical resources and federation of such resources in a Grid environment. The functionality provided by caGrid is an essential and integral component of the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG™) program. This program is established by the National Cancer Institute as a nationwide effort to develop enabling informatics technologies for collaborative, multi-institutional biomedical research with the overarching goal of accelerating translational cancer research. Although the main application domain for caGrid is cancer research, the infrastructure provides a generic framework that can be employed in other biomedical research and healthcare domains. The development of caGrid is an ongoing effort, adding new functionality and improvements based on feedback and use cases from the community. This paper provides an overview of potential future architecture and tooling directions and areas of improvement for caGrid and caGrid-like systems. This summary is based on discussions at a roadmap workshop held in February with participants from biomedical research, Grid computing, and high performance computing communities.
PMCID: PMC3292259  PMID: 18560123
5.  A Comparison of Using Taverna and BPEL in Building Scientific Workflows: the case of caGrid 
With the emergence of “service oriented science,” the need arises to orchestrate multiple services to facilitate scientific investigation—that is, to create “science workflows.” We present here our findings in providing a workflow solution for the caGrid service-based grid infrastructure. We choose BPEL and Taverna as candidates, and compare their usability in the lifecycle of a scientific workflow, including workflow composition, execution, and result analysis. Our experience shows that BPEL as an imperative language offers a comprehensive set of modeling primitives for workflows of all flavors; while Taverna offers a dataflow model and a more compact set of primitives that facilitates dataflow modeling and pipelined execution. We hope that this comparison study not only helps researchers select a language or tool that meets their specific needs, but also offers some insight on how a workflow language and tool can fulfill the requirement of the scientific community.
doi:10.1002/cpe.1547
PMCID: PMC2901112  PMID: 20625534
scientific workflow; functional programming; Taverna; BPEL; caGrid
6.  Towards BioDBcore: a community-defined information specification for biological databases 
The present article proposes the adoption of a community-defined, uniform, generic description of the core attributes of biological databases, BioDBCore. The goals of these attributes are to provide a general overview of the database landscape, to encourage consistency and interoperability between resources; and to promote the use of semantic and syntactic standards. BioDBCore will make it easier for users to evaluate the scope and relevance of available resources. This new resource will increase the collective impact of the information present in biological databases.
doi:10.1093/database/baq027
PMCID: PMC3017395  PMID: 21205783
7.  Community-driven computational biology with Debian Linux 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11(Suppl 12):S5.
Background
The Open Source movement and its technologies are popular in the bioinformatics community because they provide freely available tools and resources for research. In order to feed the steady demand for updates on software and associated data, a service infrastructure is required for sharing and providing these tools to heterogeneous computing environments.
Results
The Debian Med initiative provides ready and coherent software packages for medical informatics and bioinformatics. These packages can be used together in Taverna workflows via the UseCase plugin to manage execution on local or remote machines. If such packages are available in cloud computing environments, the underlying hardware and the analysis pipelines can be shared along with the software.
Conclusions
Debian Med closes the gap between developers and users. It provides a simple method for offering new releases of software and data resources, thus provisioning a local infrastructure for computational biology. For geographically distributed teams it can ensure they are working on the same versions of tools, in the same conditions. This contributes to the world-wide networking of researchers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-S12-S5
PMCID: PMC3040531  PMID: 21210984
8.  Systematic integration of experimental data and models in systems biology 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:582.
Background
The behaviour of biological systems can be deduced from their mathematical models. However, multiple sources of data in diverse forms are required in the construction of a model in order to define its components and their biochemical reactions, and corresponding parameters. Automating the assembly and use of systems biology models is dependent upon data integration processes involving the interoperation of data and analytical resources.
Results
Taverna workflows have been developed for the automated assembly of quantitative parameterised metabolic networks in the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML). A SBML model is built in a systematic fashion by the workflows which starts with the construction of a qualitative network using data from a MIRIAM-compliant genome-scale model of yeast metabolism. This is followed by parameterisation of the SBML model with experimental data from two repositories, the SABIO-RK enzyme kinetics database and a database of quantitative experimental results. The models are then calibrated and simulated in workflows that call out to COPASIWS, the web service interface to the COPASI software application for analysing biochemical networks. These systems biology workflows were evaluated for their ability to construct a parameterised model of yeast glycolysis.
Conclusions
Distributed information about metabolic reactions that have been described to MIRIAM standards enables the automated assembly of quantitative systems biology models of metabolic networks based on user-defined criteria. Such data integration processes can be implemented as Taverna workflows to provide a rapid overview of the components and their relationships within a biochemical system.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-582
PMCID: PMC3008707  PMID: 21114840
9.  Towards BioDBcore: a community-defined information specification for biological databases 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(Database issue):D7-D10.
The present article proposes the adoption of a community-defined, uniform, generic description of the core attributes of biological databases, BioDBCore. The goals of these attributes are to provide a general overview of the database landscape, to encourage consistency and interoperability between resources and to promote the use of semantic and syntactic standards. BioDBCore will make it easier for users to evaluate the scope and relevance of available resources. This new resource will increase the collective impact of the information present in biological databases.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq1173
PMCID: PMC3013734  PMID: 21097465
10.  CaGrid Workflow Toolkit: A taverna based workflow tool for cancer grid 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:542.
Background
In biological and medical domain, the use of web services made the data and computation functionality accessible in a unified manner, which helped automate the data pipeline that was previously performed manually. Workflow technology is widely used in the orchestration of multiple services to facilitate in-silico research. Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) is an information network enabling the sharing of cancer research related resources and caGrid is its underlying service-based computation infrastructure. CaBIG requires that services are composed and orchestrated in a given sequence to realize data pipelines, which are often called scientific workflows.
Results
CaGrid selected Taverna as its workflow execution system of choice due to its integration with web service technology and support for a wide range of web services, plug-in architecture to cater for easy integration of third party extensions, etc. The caGrid Workflow Toolkit (or the toolkit for short), an extension to the Taverna workflow system, is designed and implemented to ease building and running caGrid workflows. It provides users with support for various phases in using workflows: service discovery, composition and orchestration, data access, and secure service invocation, which have been identified by the caGrid community as challenging in a multi-institutional and cross-discipline domain.
Conclusions
By extending the Taverna Workbench, caGrid Workflow Toolkit provided a comprehensive solution to compose and coordinate services in caGrid, which would otherwise remain isolated and disconnected from each other. Using it users can access more than 140 services and are offered with a rich set of features including discovery of data and analytical services, query and transfer of data, security protections for service invocations, state management in service interactions, and sharing of workflows, experiences and best practices. The proposed solution is general enough to be applicable and reusable within other service-computing infrastructures that leverage similar technology stack.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-542
PMCID: PMC3098092  PMID: 21044328
11.  myExperiment: a repository and social network for the sharing of bioinformatics workflows 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(Web Server issue):W677-W682.
myExperiment (http://www.myexperiment.org) is an online research environment that supports the social sharing of bioinformatics workflows. These workflows are procedures consisting of a series of computational tasks using web services, which may be performed on data from its retrieval, integration and analysis, to the visualization of the results. As a public repository of workflows, myExperiment allows anybody to discover those that are relevant to their research, which can then be reused and repurposed to their specific requirements. Conversely, developers can submit their workflows to myExperiment and enable them to be shared in a secure manner. Since its release in 2007, myExperiment currently has over 3500 registered users and contains more than 1000 workflows. The social aspect to the sharing of these workflows is facilitated by registered users forming virtual communities bound together by a common interest or research project. Contributors of workflows can build their reputation within these communities by receiving feedback and credit from individuals who reuse their work. Further documentation about myExperiment including its REST web service is available from http://wiki.myexperiment.org. Feedback and requests for support can be sent to bugs@myexperiment.org.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq429
PMCID: PMC2896080  PMID: 20501605
12.  BioCatalogue: a universal catalogue of web services for the life sciences 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(Web Server issue):W689-W694.
The use of Web Services to enable programmatic access to on-line bioinformatics is becoming increasingly important in the Life Sciences. However, their number, distribution and the variable quality of their documentation can make their discovery and subsequent use difficult. A Web Services registry with information on available services will help to bring together service providers and their users. The BioCatalogue (http://www.biocatalogue.org/) provides a common interface for registering, browsing and annotating Web Services to the Life Science community. Services in the BioCatalogue can be described and searched in multiple ways based upon their technical types, bioinformatics categories, user tags, service providers or data inputs and outputs. They are also subject to constant monitoring, allowing the identification of service problems and changes and the filtering-out of unavailable or unreliable resources. The system is accessible via a human-readable ‘Web 2.0’-style interface and a programmatic Web Service interface. The BioCatalogue follows a community approach in which all services can be registered, browsed and incrementally documented with annotations by any member of the scientific community.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq394
PMCID: PMC2896129  PMID: 20484378
13.  XGAP: a uniform and extensible data model and software platform for genotype and phenotype experiments 
Genome Biology  2010;11(3):R27.
XGAP, a software platform for the integration and analysis of genotype and phenotype data.
We present an extensible software model for the genotype and phenotype community, XGAP. Readers can download a standard XGAP (http://www.xgap.org) or auto-generate a custom version using MOLGENIS with programming interfaces to R-software and web-services or user interfaces for biologists. XGAP has simple load formats for any type of genotype, epigenotype, transcript, protein, metabolite or other phenotype data. Current functionality includes tools ranging from eQTL analysis in mouse to genome-wide association studies in humans.
doi:10.1186/gb-2010-11-3-r27
PMCID: PMC2864567  PMID: 20214801
14.  Performing statistical analyses on quantitative data in Taverna workflows: An example using R and maxdBrowse to identify differentially-expressed genes from microarray data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:334.
Background
There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of quantitative data derived from the measurement of changes at different levels of biological complexity during the post-genomic era. However, there are a number of issues associated with the use of computational tools employed for the analysis of such data. For example, computational tools such as R and MATLAB require prior knowledge of their programming languages in order to implement statistical analyses on data. Combining two or more tools in an analysis may also be problematic since data may have to be manually copied and pasted between separate user interfaces for each tool. Furthermore, this transfer of data may require a reconciliation step in order for there to be interoperability between computational tools.
Results
Developments in the Taverna workflow system have enabled pipelines to be constructed and enacted for generic and ad hoc analyses of quantitative data. Here, we present an example of such a workflow involving the statistical identification of differentially-expressed genes from microarray data followed by the annotation of their relationships to cellular processes. This workflow makes use of customised maxdBrowse web services, a system that allows Taverna to query and retrieve gene expression data from the maxdLoad2 microarray database. These data are then analysed by R to identify differentially-expressed genes using the Taverna RShell processor which has been developed for invoking this tool when it has been deployed as a service using the RServe library. In addition, the workflow uses Beanshell scripts to reconcile mismatches of data between services as well as to implement a form of user interaction for selecting subsets of microarray data for analysis as part of the workflow execution. A new plugin system in the Taverna software architecture is demonstrated by the use of renderers for displaying PDF files and CSV formatted data within the Taverna workbench.
Conclusion
Taverna can be used by data analysis experts as a generic tool for composing ad hoc analyses of quantitative data by combining the use of scripts written in the R programming language with tools exposed as services in workflows. When these workflows are shared with colleagues and the wider scientific community, they provide an approach for other scientists wanting to use tools such as R without having to learn the corresponding programming language to analyse their own data.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-334
PMCID: PMC2528018  PMID: 18687127
15.  ISPIDER Central: an integrated database web-server for proteomics 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(Web Server issue):W485-W490.
Despite the growing volumes of proteomic data, integration of the underlying results remains problematic owing to differences in formats, data captured, protein accessions and services available from the individual repositories. To address this, we present the ISPIDER Central Proteomic Database search (http://www.ispider.manchester.ac.uk/cgi-bin/ProteomicSearch.pl), an integration service offering novel search capabilities over leading, mature, proteomic repositories including PRoteomics IDEntifications database (PRIDE), PepSeeker, PeptideAtlas and the Global Proteome Machine. It enables users to search for proteins and peptides that have been characterised in mass spectrometry-based proteomics experiments from different groups, stored in different databases, and view the collated results with specialist viewers/clients. In order to overcome limitations imposed by the great variability in protein accessions used by individual laboratories, the European Bioinformatics Institute's Protein Identifier Cross-Reference (PICR) service is used to resolve accessions from different sequence repositories. Custom-built clients allow users to view peptide/protein identifications in different contexts from multiple experiments and repositories, as well as integration with the Dasty2 client supporting any annotations available from Distributed Annotation System servers. Further information on the protein hits may also be added via external web services able to take a protein as input. This web server offers the first truly integrated access to proteomics repositories and provides a unique service to biologists interested in mass spectrometry-based proteomics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn196
PMCID: PMC2447780  PMID: 18440977
16.  Taverna: a tool for building and running workflows of services 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(Web Server issue):W729-W732.
Taverna is an application that eases the use and integration of the growing number of molecular biology tools and databases available on the web, especially web services. It allows bioinformaticians to construct workflows or pipelines of services to perform a range of different analyses, such as sequence analysis and genome annotation. These high-level workflows can integrate many different resources into a single analysis. Taverna is available freely under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) from .
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl320
PMCID: PMC1538887  PMID: 16845108
17.  The Montagues and the Capulets 
Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Genomics, where we lay our scene, (One, comforted by its logic's rigour, Claims ontology for the realm of pure, The other, with blessed scientist's vigour, Acts hastily on models that endure), From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, When ‘being’ drives a fly-man to blaspheme. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, Researchers to unlock the book of life; Whole misadventured piteous overthrows, Can with their work bury their clans' strife. The fruitful passage of their GO-mark'd love, And the continuance of their studies sage, Which, united, yield ontologies undreamed-of, Is now the hour's traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
doi:10.1002/cfg.442
PMCID: PMC2447479  PMID: 18629186
18.  Building Ontologies in DAML + OIL 
In this article we describe an approach to representing and building ontologies advocated by the Bioinformatics and Medical Informatics groups at the University of Manchester. The hand-crafting of ontologies offers an easy and rapid avenue to delivering ontologies. Experience has shown that such approaches are unsustainable. Description logic approaches have been shown to offer computational support for building sound, complete and logically consistent ontologies. A new knowledge representation language, DAML + OIL, offers a new standard that is able to support many styles of ontology, from hand-crafted to full logic-based descriptions with reasoning support. We describe this language, the OilEd editing tool, reasoning support and a strategy for the language’s use. We finish with a current example, in the Gene Ontology Next Generation (GONG) project, that uses DAML + OIL as the basis for moving the Gene Ontology from its current hand-crafted, form to one that uses logical descriptions of a concept’s properties to deliver a more complete version of the ontology.
doi:10.1002/cfg.233
PMCID: PMC2447401  PMID: 18629114
19.  The Low Down on e-Science and Grids for Biology 
The Grid is touted as a next generation Internet/Web, designed primarily to support e-Science. I hope to shed some light on what the Grid is, its purpose, and its potential impact on scientific practice in biology. The key message is that biologists are already primarily working in a manner that the Grid is intended to support. However, to ensure that the Grid’s good intentions are appropriate and fulfilled in practice, biologists must become engaged in the process of its development.
doi:10.1002/cfg.115
PMCID: PMC2447223  PMID: 18628864

Results 1-19 (19)