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Mixed Integer Linear Programming for Maximum-Parsimony Phylogeny Inference

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journal contribution
posted on 01.06.2011 by Srinath Sridhar, Fumei Lam, Guy Blelloch, Ramamoorthi Ravi, Russell Schwartz
Reconstruction of phylogenetic trees is a fundamental problem in computational biology. While excellent heuristic methods are available for many variants of this problem, new advances in phylogeny inference will be required if we are to be able to continue making effective use of the rapidly growing stores of variation data now being gathered. In this paper, we present two integer linear programming (ILP) formulations for finding the most parsimonious phylogenetic tree from a set of binary variation data. One method uses a flow-based formulation that can produce exponential numbers of variables and constraints in the worst case. The method has, however, proven to be extremely efficient in practice on data sets that are well beyond the reach of the available provably efficient methods, solving several large mtDNA and Y-chromosome instances within a few seconds and giving provably optimal results in times competitive with fast heuristics that cannot guarantee optimality. An alternative formulation establishes that the problem can be solved with a polynomial-sized ILP. We further present a Web server that was developed based on the exponential-sized ILP that performs fast maximum parsimony inferences and serves as a front end to a database of precomputed phylogenies spanning the human genome.


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