July 16, 2014: GECCO @ Vancouver
As each year, GECCO was great! This year I gave a presentation at the MedGEC workshop and also participated in the industrial challenge - and came in second. I will prepare a blog post at the HeuristicLab web page in which I explain the details of this challenge and how I approached it.
It was great to re-unite with the HEAL guys, but at the same time it was time for me to say good-bye to the BEACONites. We also got around in Vancouver, which is a very neat city with an exciting downtown and nice beaches and parks:





































July 10, 2014: Goodbye USA, hello Canada!
This is my last day at BEACON, tomorrow we are going to leave and fly to Vancouver where I am going to attend this year's GECCO. We really had a great time here in Michigan, and my research stay here at BEACON has been an exciting experience; I've learned a lot and I'm sure that the research approaches I've discussed with the people here will be continued over the next months. But even though we are sad to leave, we are also looking forward to returning to Austria and seeing all our friends and colleagues (hi guys!).
I'm also sure that GECCO will be great and interesting. I'll give my presentation at MedGEC on Sunday, today we were informed that in the interests of those wishing to see World Cup Final, the schedule was updated so we can finish the presentations by 12 noon (which proves that the organizers of MedGEC are very prudent ;-). And on Monday I will also have a short presentation - but I'm not yet allowed to officially tell where and when and why...


July 7, 2014: Up north
Last weekend was Fourth Of July Weekend and also our last weekend here in the USA, so we went on our last trip and headed up north.
First, this trip brought us to Mackinaw City, where the famous Mackinac Bridge connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan:











From there we took a ferry and went to Mackinac Island, a lovely island on which no cars or motor cycles are allowed:









Then we went even further north to Sault Ste. Marie, where we took a boat trip through the locks (we even were in Canada for a short time), and then went on to see the gorgeous Tahquamenon Falls:









And then, on our way home to East Lansing, we realized that hundreds of thousends of other people had had the same plan - all the highways through Michigan were jammed. So we got off the interstate and went back south on dusty roads:



It's hard to believe that this was our last weekend in Michigan. In only three days we will leave to Vancouver...

July 4, 2014: Happy Birthday, America!




July 3, 2014: Time flies
... or, to be more precise, has flown away. This week I signed my departure form confirming that I will leave MSU and USA next Thursday. So, this is our lask week here. Unbelieveable how quickly these three months have gone by! Even though there are many things at home in Austria we are looking forward to, we are sad that the end of our stay here is so near. This really feels strange... We'll especially miss those guys at MSU:






June 29, 2014: Chicago revisited
Again we spent a weekend in Chicago. This time we took the Megabus to get there, the weather was great except for a short thunderstorm that forced us to seek shelter in the Trump Hotel ;-) In the evening there was a free public concert in the Grant Park (near the famous Cloud Gate and the Buckingham Fountain that all Al Bundy fans know from TV) where the Grant Park Orchestra played Barber and Haydn. We spent the night at the Palmer House which is famous for its very neat lobby. Again: Look at those amazing buildings and the skyline - that city is amazing!



















June 27, 2014: My talk at BEACON's Computational Evolution Seminar
Today it was my turn to talk at the weeky seminar of BAECON's Computational Evolution Discussion Group; I showed HeuristicLab and how to use it as well as some of the GP research I did over the last years. I am really happy that the people liked what I talked about, we had very interesting discussions and came up with several ideas for further research and directions of collaboration for HEAL and BEACON researchers. Of course, I had prepared way too many slides - I only made it to slide 27.

June 24, 2014: Hundreds flock to see corpse flower at MSU






June 22, 2014: Jazzy sounds
One of the highlights of this year's Summer Solstice Jazz Festival in East Lansing was the Second Line Parade featuring Chicago’s Lowdown Brass Band:






June 20, 2014: Corpse flower's stench soon to grace MSU
This is so great:
"Summer is here. Birds are singing. Children are playing. Flowers are blooming. And the smell of death is in the air.
That’s because Michigan State University’s corpse flower is about to bloom again. The five-foot tall Amorphophallus titanum is best known for its putrid scent, which ranges in description from dirty socks to a rotting animal.
Despite its spectacular stench, it will attract hundreds of visitors during its short-lived bloom. 'It’s projected to bloom in the next week, and it will last only 24 to 48 hours,' said Peter Carrington, MSU plant biologist. 'In any given decade, only a handful of corpse flowers bloom outside of their native habitat of Indonesia.'
The last time this MSU corpse flower bloomed was in 2010.
Visitors can see the flower from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 4 p.m. this weekend at MSU’s Plant Biology Conservatory (Wilson Road, just east of Farm Lane). [...]" (msutoday.msu.edu)


I'll keep you updated on this!

June 18, 2014: That was our trip to the South
As I told you some days a go we went on a weekend trip to Tennessee to experience South USA. So we first went to Nashville, the capital of Tennessee also called "Music City" - what an awesome place! In the evening there's live music in each honky tonk bar on the Broadway, the world's center of country music (yeeha!), and especially on Saturday night there were countless groups celebrating wild bachelorette parties. We also saw the Parthenon and the main campus of Vanderbilt University. I now definitively understand why this city is so famous!













Then we went on to Memphis, the second world famous city in Tennessee, the birthplace of Rock and Roll. First we went to see Graceland, and I now understand how important Elvis and his music were (and still are) for the Americans.













And then: Memphis downtown. Now that's amazing! Especially on and near Beale Street, the Blues capital of the world, there are bands playing the Blues in every bar and park - the atmosphere there is awesome. Of course we also went on a river boat cruise on the Mississippi River, saw the Gibson Factory and had long strolls through the town, even though it was hot and muggy and sticky and the temperature was approx. 95°F.











And then our trip back home to East Lansing: Severe thunderstorms in the Upper Midwest, flight cancellations and delays in Chicago and Detroit, killing time at Detroit Airport and then in the plane waiting for clearance for takeoff. It took us longer to go back from Tennessee by plane than it took us to drive there.

June 13th: Let's go places!
Tomorrow morning we are going to hit the road and go to the South. (Why we can't go today? On a Friday the 13th?! No way!) Our plan is to first visit Nashville and then go on to Memphis - so we are going to see the home of country music and the birthplace of rock 'n' roll! Ain't that cool? And that's our ride for this weekend: A Chevrolet Impala.


June 12th: Black Clouds and Silver Linings





3 minutes later I was completely soaked.

June 11th: Farmers Markets
Each Sunday there's a farmers market in East Lansing and there's one each Wednesday in Lansing. According to CUESA, "food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth." Plus: This food tastes a lot better and more organic - more real! So go and support local farmers!







June 7th: A Day at the Beach of Holland State Park - A Review

The authors spent a day at the beach of Holland State Park.

The authors are currently staying at the NSF Center for the Study of Evolution in Action [1] at Michigan State University (MSU, [2]). The authors' colleague Dr. Annat Haber (Annat, [3]) was expected to come back to MSU and the authors had promised to pick her up at Lansing Airport [4] on Sunday. Due to the very good weather forecast for the weekend the authors decided to go to the beach at Holland State Park (HSP, [5]) at Lake Michigan [6] on Saturday.

Materials and Methods
On Friday Dr. Bjorn Ostman [7] gave the keys of Annat's car to the authors. The authors decided to go to the beach on Saturday, the beach at Holland State Park was chosen as it's beauty and awesomeness was known to the authors from previous empirical studies and that that beach is the beach with the smallest distance to MSU. It was decided to take I-496 through Lansing, then I-96 to Grand Rapids, then M-6 south of Grand Rapids, then I-196 to Holland. The distance from MSU to HSP is approximately 99 mi (159 km) [8].

After leaving MSU the authors soon had to realize that the driveway to I-496 was closed due to construction works; thus, the authors had to take the I-127 to the north of Lansing, then turn west into I-69 north of Lansing and then turn into I-96 west of Lansing. Approximately 15 miles before reaching Grand Rapids the authors got into a traffic jam caused by a road accident and construction works. This jam lasted into Grand Rapids, the authors left it when they reached the exit to M-6. From there the authors smoothly drove to HSP, which they finally reached after total 2h47min. The authors then spent a very nice afternoon at HSP and enjoyed the sun and lying / running in the sand and the lake. Figures 1 and 2 show exemplary views of the HSP beach:




Figure 1: The beach of HSP.


Figure 2: The beach of HSP;
Big Red Lighthouse [9] can be seen in the background.

In the evening the authors went back home to MSU without any problems in approx. 1h40.

Beside the annoying detour and jam, the authors spent another perfect day in Western Michigan. The authors are currently curing their sunburns using advanced sunburn relieve techniques [10].

The authors cordially thank Annat for lending them her car.

June 7th: Americans really know about excellent beer - here's the proof:


June 5th: I can't believe it's not butter!








June 2nd: Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lighthouse Trips, Pt. 3
Again, we took a car and went on a trip; this time we went to the north. After short stops at the lighthouse of Frankfort and Point Betsie Lighthouse we went to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. What a gorgeous place! It's really no surprise that the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was voted the "Most Beautiful Place in America" some years ago. We then went on to Traverse City, a nice town at the Grand Traverse Bay, and then to the Old Mission Peninsula. That's summer time in northern Michigan!
















May 30th: Halftime report
Time flies! It's hard to believe that the first half of my time at MSU is already over. So, it's high time for an update about what I'm doing at BEACON:

In two or three weeks it's going to be my turn to talk at the weekly seminar, I'll probably talk about genetic programming, virtual tumor markers and tumor diagnosis prediction, genetic process monitoring, and HeuristicLab.

Plus, here are some pictures that show you images of our daily life:





















May 29th: Rosie's not alone any more!


May 26th: Memorial Day Ceremony at Glendale Cemetery, Okemos, MI






May 25th: Lighthouse Trips, Pt. 2
This weekend we again rented a car (we got a Dodge Challenger - what a car!) and headed west. We visited the Muskegon State Park and the famous Little Sable Point Lighthouse, spent the night in Ludington, and then went on to Ludington State Park.



















May 23th: Memorial Day weekend
Next Monday is Memorial Day, one of the few US federal holidays - which means that we're having a long weekend! Memorial Day is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service, and it typically marks the start of the summer vacation season. According to AAA Michigan (the American ÖAMTC), most of the nearly 1.1 million Michiganders expected to travel this weekend will be driving. "We just want to remind people (to) buckle up, drive safe and drive sober," AAA spokeswoman Susan Hiltz said. "This is a good weekend to put that technology, that smart phone, away." Not sure if I’m going to take her advice ;-) Nevertheless, when in America do as the Americans do, so we will be traveling this weekend and attend a memorial day service on Monday.

May 22th: Transparency
As part of its public commitment, MSU values transparent and consistently available information about the university and its operation to any of its stakeholders. Consistent with MSU's commitment to transparency, the university publishes financial and operational indicators as well as student and academic outcomes. So, for example, you can check out MSU’s salary list.

May 21th: Impressions from MSU Campus
The labs participating in BEACON are spread over the whole MSU campus, so I get around quite a lot. Is there some kind of unwritten international campus rule that the chemistry buildings always have to be the ugliest ones?













May 20th: Impressions from East Lansing
East Lansing is the home of Michigan State University. It claims to be "vibrant, diverse and charming - tree-lined streets and patio cafes add to the energy of downtown East Lansing". ACK!
















May 18th: Road to Perdition: Lighthouse Trips, Pt. 1
This weekend we rented a car and headed west. On Saturday we went to Holland, a very nice town near Lake Michigan that has a rich Dutch heritage, an original Dutch windmill, and approx. 6 Mio. tulips. We visited the famous Big Red Lighthouse, enjoyed the sunset at Holland State Park, and spent the night at the lovely Dutch Colonial Inn. On Sunday we first went to the Olive Shores, where they shot parts of Road to Perdition, and then to the beach of Grand Haven, where we go into this year's Great Lakes Kite Festival. Plus: Our paper at Soft Computing was accepted! A simply perfect weekend.
















May 16th: Science + Greek Philosophy + Group Discussions = Scientific Virtues Session at BEACON Seminar





May 16th: Floodings on Campus


May 16th: Public lecture on human evolution







May 15th: Summer and tornados
At the beginning of this week we had our first real summer days with up to humid 82°F (ca. 28°C). Of course this is great and everything looks nicer now - but as we are in the US, this also rises the threat of tornados. Several houses were demolished in the Mid-West by tornados last weekend, and on Monday and Tuesday we also had tornado warnings for Mid-Michigan. There even was a tornado to the north of Ann Arbor, only ca. 50 miles away from here!
Now that all has changed, Tuesday evening it started to rain and it has hardly stopped since then. There are floodings reported all over the country, and also the Grand River (that runs right beside our home) shows significantly higher water levels. The temperature has gone down to currently 46°F (ca. 8°C), so we directly went from turning on AC on Monday and Tuesday back to turning on the heating since yesterday.




PS: Now the temperature has gone down to 35°F. Brrrrr.

May 11th: GPTP in Ann Arbor
This year's GPTP was absolutely great - probably one of the best conferences I've ever attended! Ann Arbor is a very nice town significantly shaped by the University of Michigan.
















PS: I'm posting this from our self-service laundry where we of course have free WiFi - I'm loving it ;-)





May 7th: Impressions from yesterday's evening run over MSU Campus





And now we're heading off to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where I'll attend GPTP 2014. Looking forward to this conference - and also to meeting Michael and Gabriel!

May 5th: Chicago
We took the Amtrak train to Chicago and spent an awesome weekend there. Look at those amazing buildings! And the bean (aka Cloud Gate)! And the skyline! That city is amazing!

























May 3rd: Impressions from MSU Campus































May 2nd: Met Prof. Kalyanmoy Deb
Today I had lunch with some people at BEACON and there got to know Prof. Kalyanmoy Deb, who is rather famous in the EC community. He even is my office neighbor! (But unfortunatley he's is here at this office only very seldomly.)


May 1st: Labor Day
In fact, Labor Day is a holiday in the US - but it is not, as for example in Austria, celebrated on International Workers' Day (on May 1st), but later on the first Monday in September.
So, @ all friends in Europe: Happy Labor Day! And @ Stephan: Go to work!


April 30th: Me at my office at BEACON
Yes, I am working with a Mac ;-)



April 29th: Picnic, PS
Here another picture of our picnic - thanks, Lili!


April 28th: Whole Lotta Rosie


April 28th: Picnic
This weekend we had a great picnic with my office mate Annat, Bjorn, Lili, and other colleagues from BEACON. Our self-made brownies and the Mozart balls we braught absolutely rocked the party!









April 27th: Spring Break in Central Michigan





April 25th: Evolution of Behavior
I am now also working with Arend Hintze from the Adami Lab at MSU. He and his colleagues are researching on the evolution of behavior and intelligence. Take a look at their videos of virtual hyenas trying to move lions away from a zebra! My job in this context is now to implement genetic programing in their Evosphere system, a framework for learning and simulating behaviors; we want to use GP for automatically learning (intelligent) behavior of agents interacting in 3D environments.

April 23th: Of flies, spiders, and mantises
Today I had a very nice and interesting discussion with Anne, Abhijna, and Will from the Dworkin Lab at MSU. There are some questions regarding data mining in which I could help them in their projects. I especially like that part of their research that focuses on the question why some flies are caught by mantises and spiders and some are not.

April 19th: Lansing Downtown













April 18th: Evolution of Intelligence
I am now a member of the Computational Evolution Discussion Group at BEACON, a discussion group in which computer scientists as well as biologists participate each Friday morning. Today we discussed the evolution of learning.


PS: I love the idea of having free finger food at seminars!

April 16th: I'm officially a Spartan now


April 15th: My first day at Michigan State University, East Lansing









April 15th: Michigan, here we are - and it's winter!
We are staying at the great Gatehouse Suites at MSU Campus:







April 13th: Finally, the day has come!
Tomorrow morning we will start our trip to Michigan State University! For the next months I will be a guest researcher at BEACON, an NSF Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.