Two new publications to report, both very different.
The first is a paper that's just been accepted by BioSystems, and is now available online. Two hybrid compaction algorithms for the layout optimisation problem was written with two colleagues in China, and deals with the problem of packing circular objects inside an "outer" containing circle. Many people will be familiar with this problem, which tries to minimise the size of the container, but our version is complicated by the fact that each object also has mass, and we must seek to minimise not only the radius of the container, but the net mass imbalance. This problem has real-world significance in areas such as aerospace and satellite design, where the circles represent pieces of equipment, and the body as a whole is rotating or moving. We have developed two algorithms, both inspired by nature, which produce the best known results for this problem.
The other piece of writing this month is my first (and quite possibly last) appearance in a men's style magazine (Esquire). As part of their "Hot List 2007", I was asked to write a short piece on "The New Software is...", and chose "Wetware". I'm on page 92 of the February issue, sharing space with George Monbiot.