Bioinformatics

Having the opportunity to pick a class slightly outside of my main curriculum, I signed-up for an eight-week pluridisciplinary session on bioinformatics in genetics. I had my first lecture on Friday.

What I’ve learned so far:

  1. This particular area of bioinfo (applying advanced AI algorithms to genetic research) is absolutely fascinating. With its mixing of cutting-edge results in biology, mathematics, physics and AI, it’s tough not being sucked in by the way they all combine into truly sci-fiesque results.
  2. About 3 month away from graduating into a field I have planned to pursue my researches in, I am suddenly starting to wonder about a switch in research paths. Yes: yet another existential academic crisis. Just what I needed now.
  3. During the introductory part on gene decoding patterns, when asked about information entropy in gene sequences, the lecturer: “Oh, it varies a lot between life forms. Viruses, for instance, have an extremely high entropy: lots of genes are coded using both directions of the helix”.
  4. What this means in layman’s term: viruses’ use compression in their genetic code… Yes, your flu virus may come in its own zip archive, just like your e-mail viruses!
  5. “Viruses are amazing things”, she concluded with an earnest look of admiration on her face (maniacal laughter did not follow, however).
  6. Yes, there is something ever so slightly chilling about hearing a respected biotech researcher uttering such phrases.
  7. I think I want to go into bioinformatics.
  8. Viruses are, like, totally cool.

8 comments

  1. mathrick: You are perfectly right and I shouldn’t be posting such things late at night. The information density is indeed very high, the compressibility very low and the entropy very high. My bad: entropy has always messed with my head, desperately trying to reconcile rather incompatible definitions across disciplines.
    Anyway, corrected now: thanks!

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