Bio-Informatics: A computational approach to molecular biology.
Written by G. Osuri
If you are computer-programmer, bio-informatic skills would enable you to make software for biological applications and if you are biologist, bio-informatics would probably be the best tool to speed up your work just by using a computer with an internet connection. On an over all, bio-informatics is a very important tool for any one who is serious about computing biological processes.
Many of us confuse Bio-informatics with that of Bio-computing; fundamentally it's a complete different field. Bio-computing or molecular computing is applying biology to solve complex and computationally almost impossible problems using biology, the best example is the famous 'Traveling sales man problem' which was treated computationally impossible to solve. Bio-informatics a very new field, it has been hardly five years since this science has come into existence in a common man's life. As in the definition I have mentioned that it is a mathematical and computational approach, you might be wondering what does mathematics have to do with this. Well, frankly speaking, mathematics is there every where we go, there would be no science in which there is no mathematics, it might be difficult for many of us with no mathematic background to get along with bio-informatics, well the good news is I have a taken time to explain what ever you need to know in math to actually understand bio-informatic application, unless you want to develop comprehensive and faster algorithms, mathematics would be of no use to you, so don't worry you can still be a bio-informatician with out being a mathematician. As far as computational skills are considered, they are very important to a bio-informatician, your job primary would be to develop applications to solve biological problems, therefore I recommend you to master at least one major programming language like c, c++ or java before you start off learning bio-informatics. There are so many web sites which can teach you these languages, you can probably try search on google.com or altavista.com to find such tutorials, you are even free to visit this site www.programmingtutorials.com to help you in your journey towards learning a programming language. I also recommend you know unix / linux operating system, if you are windows favorite I'm sorry to say that it would be best for you to switch over to linux, I totally agree to your point that windows is much user-friendly and useful, since bio-informatics is a new field, most of the programs you will use will be open source and are based on linux. Red Hat Linux 7.3 and above is recommended for the applications I will be using in these tutorials, more over linux is free operating system and latest versions would support all major devices, there should be a problem for you. Visit www.redhat.com for more information about their products.
Fundamental knowledge of molecular biology is also necessary to learn bio-informatics, molecular biology is a branch of biology which primarily deals with functions, characteristics and structures of mainly three major macro-molecules DNA,RNA and Proteins. There are few good books on molecular biology, thorough reading is not essential but obtaining enough knowledge to understand the applications would be very helpful in your approach. You can perhaps find good books at www.amazon.com.
Finally I would like to say few words before we actually start off, bio-informatics is a field which demands dedication and passion for the field, its not every one's piece of cake and only if you are truly serious about learning bio-informatics only then you will survive, what ever may come I wish you all the best in your journey and I very much appreciate your interest in reading my context.
© G.Osuri, 2003. This is an information tutorial and can be freely distributed along with permission. email: firstname.lastname@example.org