The Stic AmSud project MAIA, which stands for “Methodological Approaches Investigated as Accurately as possible for applications to biology”, started on January 1st, 2016.
As pollinators, bees play an essential role in generating and maintaining the diversity of our ecosystem. The main objective of this project is to act as bees by cross-pollinating in our case not plants, but different methodological approaches. The aim is to improve them by benefiting from the ideas and techniques specific to each, notably when addressing hard problems. In computer science and in optimisation, different approaches and techniques have indeed been proposed to cope with hardness results. It is clear that none of them is dominant: there are classes of problems for which approach A is better than approach B, and vice-versa. Moreover, there is no satisfactory understanding of the conditions that favour one approach with respect to another one. Although all approaches may be valid and valuable, in many cases one only is explored. Guided by problems from computational biology where one is most often confronted with hard problems, the project aims to add to the growing insights on how well, and especially on how accurately such problems can be solved theoretically. Accuracy is crucial when dealing with problems in biology to guarantee interpretation of the results obtained within a given model. Improving such accuracy, or at least improving our assessment of the behaviour of non exact, in particular heuristic methods will thus be another major objective of the project. Finally, in terms of biology itself, the goal will be to use the algorithmic insights and approaches developed in order to reach a better understanding of the extent and the role of interspecific interactions (i.e. of symbiosis in general) in life processes.