In this paper we describe a new global alignment method called AVID. The method is designed to be fast, memory efficient, and practical for sequence alignments of large genomic regions up to megabases long. We present numerous applications of the method, ranging front the comparison of assemblies to alignment of large syntemic genomic regions and whole genome human/mouse alignments. We have also performed a quantitative comparison of AVID with other popular alignment tools. To this end, we have established a format for the representation of alignments and methods for their comparison. These formats and methods should be useful for future studies. The tools we have developed for the alignment comparisons, as well as the AVID program, are publicly available.