Free Trial

Safari Books Online is a digital library providing on-demand subscription access to thousands of learning resources.

  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL
Help

Part I: Introduction > Biology in the Computer Age

Chapter 1. Biology in the Computer Age

From the interaction of species and populations, to the function of tissues and cells within an individual organism, biology is defined as the study of living things. In the course of that study, biologists collect and interpret data. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, we use sophisticated laboratory technology that allows us to collect data faster than we can interpret it. We have vast volumes of DNA sequence data at our fingertips. But how do we figure out which parts of that DNA control the various chemical processes of life? We know the function and structure of some proteins, but how do we determine the function of new proteins? And how do we predict what a protein will look like, based on knowledge of its sequence? We understand the relatively simple code that translates DNA into protein. But how do we find meaningful new words in the code and add them to the DNA-protein dictionary?

Bioinformatics is the science of using information to understand biology; it's the tool we can use to help us answer these questions and many others like them. Unfortunately, with all the hype about mapping the human genome, bioinformatics has achieved buzzword status; the term is being used in a number of ways, depending on who is using it. Strictly speaking, bioinformatics is a subset of the larger field of computational biology , the application of quantitative analytical techniques in modeling biological systems. In this book, we stray from bioinformatics into computational biology and back again. The distinctions between the two aren't important for our purpose here, which is to cover a range of tools and techniques we believe are critical for molecular biologists who want to understand and apply the basic computational tools that are available today.


  

You are currently reading a PREVIEW of this book.

                                                                                                                    

Get instant access to over $1 million worth of books and videos.

  

Start a Free 10-Day Trial


  
  • Safari Books Online
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint