About MCMCRobot

Screenshot of MCMCRobot running on an iPhoneMCMC Robot is a computer program written by Paul O. Lewis and designed to demonstrate the important features of Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC). MCMC is a very important method of numerical integration used in many areas of science. (See the article entitled MCMC 101 for an explanation of the basic concepts and uses of MCMC.) MCMC Robot was originally written in 1999 for the purpose of creating figures for a paper (Lewis 2001) I was commissioned to write for the journal TREE (Trends in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology).

Lewis, P. O. 2001. Phylogenetic systematics turns over a new leaf. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16:30-37. [pdf]
Reprinted from TRENDS in Ecology & Evolution, volume 16, copyright 2001, with permission from Elsevier Science.

Once created, however, the program turned out to be a wonderful teaching tool, and the first person to benefit was me! I found that the original Windows version of the MCMC Robot program made it quite easy for me to grasp both the power of MCMC as well as the pitfalls. I began using the program to teach graduate students at UConn as well as participants in the Woods Hole Molecular Evolution Workshop taught each summer. In the spring of 2011 I began working on an iOS version of the MCMC Robot program and used that version for the first time in the Woods Hole Molecular Evolution Workshop on July 28, 2011. The iOS (iPhone/iPad) version was approved by Apple and appeared on the iTunes store 13 August 2011.