Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Saving Private Rudi

Captain Miller: He better be worth it. He better go home and cure a disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb.

Rudi Cilibrasi works on the Normalized Compression Distance concept through the use of Google and other tools like Winzip. This is very clever because it uses tools that are already available to everybody while at the same time he uses them to do something that was thought to be impossible. In effect, the data mining and clustering of data in multidimensional space is an issue at the crossroads of many problems of importance nowadays from bioinformatics to robotics, including drug discovery.

The nice thing about Rudi is that he is making available some of his tools and findings free to whoever wants to use them: his code is on sourceforge (GPL). This is a little bit like what Dave Donoho does at Stanford with his Wavelab software thereby providing proof of scholarship as opposed to the usual article publication which is just a means of advertizing that scholarship.

Why am I saying these things ? because there is a twist: Rudi is dying. He has Hepitatis C. His parents have already passed away from the disease.

This is ironic since there is a non trivial chance that one day, a researcher at one of the big pharmaceutical company will use his software, or a derivative of it, in order to discover a drug capable of taking down Hepitatis C. It is also very likely that the product of this discovery will belong to the drug company's Intellectual Property (IP) and that Rudi may be restricted to have access to this drug because he is on the wrong continent or country as has been the case in his story.

In our war on diseases, it would be a damm shame to lose Rudi since he may even be part of the solution directly or indirectly.

Please, sign the petition, let's Save Private Rudi.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for this kind comment. I've changed the URL's a bit but you can fix them all by changing the part that says "show" in the wiki URL's into the word "published" ... this is necessary because the "show" links that you have now are restricted to a secret password to prevent spammer robots. Thanks so much for your support that is really great! I hope awareness picks up and research funding does also for all of us. -Rudi