Indexed on: 11 May '06Published on: 11 May '06Published in: The American Journal of Human Genetics
Computation of LOD scores is a valuable tool for mapping disease-susceptibility genes in the study of Mendelian and complex diseases. However, computation of exact multipoint likelihoods of large inbred pedigrees with extensive missing data is often beyond the capabilities of a single computer. We present a distributed system called "SUPERLINK-ONLINE," for the computation of multipoint LOD scores of large inbred pedigrees. It achieves high performance via the efficient parallelization of the algorithms in SUPERLINK, a state-of-the-art serial program for these tasks, and through the use of the idle cycles of thousands of personal computers. The main algorithmic challenge has been to efficiently split a large task for distributed execution in a highly dynamic, nondedicated running environment. Notably, the system is available online, which allows computationally intensive analyses to be performed with no need for either the installation of software or the maintenance of a complicated distributed environment. As the system was being developed, it was extensively tested by collaborating medical centers worldwide on a variety of real data sets, some of which are presented in this article.