Taz, a Forum member on our Distributed Folding team, hit it big with a folded protein with an RMSD of 8.97 which was good enough to rank him number one in the world. One of Taz’s computers crunched out the winning protein last week just prior to the project’s goal of 10,000,000 samples on the current client.

Distributed Folding (DF) is a research project who’s goal is to develop faster and better computing algorithms to determine the true three dimensional shape of different proteins. Currently the project is testing different algorithms by allowing thousands of volunteers to download and run the DF client on their home computers. The client takes advantage of spare CPU cycles to preform the research without affecting the computer’s performance. The client under goes little tweaks to it’s algorithms resulting in new an updated version every month or two.

To evaluate each version of the client, several known proteins are used to gauge its performance. The DF client will run repeatedly on a single protein until the project has collected enough samples to preform proper statistical analysis on the its performance. Each returned sample gets compared to the actual shape of the protein by calculating its Root Mean Square Deviation (RMSD). This is a calculation that will measure the average distance each part of the sample is from where it actually should be. The lower the RMSD number, the closer and hence more accurate the results are to the actual protein. And by using the RMSD numbers, each result can then be ranked.

While Taz was pleased with his 8.97 RMSD results, he was quoted as saying ‘I hope there is a lower RMSD actually, maybe one of us, since as you said…..progress is lower energies(RMSD)!’

The scale of Taz’s results aren’t fully realized until you compare his 8.97 rating with the second, third, and fourth place results. They had RMSD ratings of 9.71, 9.73, and 9.84 consecutively. These four results were the best in 10 million other results, making Taz’s score 1 in 10 million.

Submitted by Spankin Partier, Distributed Folding Moderator