Bioinformatics and programming languages- what do you need to know!

There are various things which come to mind when someone is going to enter in the field of Bioinformatics and the topmost concern is “Do I need to learn computer languages to pursue my career in Bioinformatics?”. The answer is a bit tricky but it could be both “yes” and “no”. This article will describe the conditions where you need to learn programming languages in Bioinformatics.

As a bioinformatics analyst, you just need to know about different software or tools, how to execute them via a pipeline or bash scripting, and how to filter your results, analyze them, and extract some useful information. Generally, all the software packages that are used in Bioinformatics always come with a manual explaining their usage and different features. So, there is no need to learn any specific language for them. Users can easily follow the tutorial and get the results but of course, they have to have a basic understanding of what they are doing and why, whereas, for some analyses such as component analysis using MATLAB (The MathWorks, Inc., Natick, Massachusetts, United States.) may require the knowledge of some specific languages, for example, R.

In the other case, if you are in an algorithm-driven lab which is more focussed on developing software, pipelines, and so on, then definitely, you need to have a knowledge of programming languages. At first, you should understand the algorithm development and then a few programming languages to amend it. The circumstances to develop new software are when there is no simple, easy-to-use solution is available to a certain problem.

In the field of bioinformatics, some commonly used computer languages include Python, R, MySql, PHP, and Perl. Its always better to know more advanced languages such as Java. In conclusion, it is better to learn some programming languages to pursue your career in bioinformatics but if you want to be an expert in bioinformatics analysis, then not knowing these languages would not be a problem.

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Tariq is founder of Bioinformatics Review and a professional Software Developer at IQL Technologies. His areas of expertise include algorithm design, phylogenetics, MicroArray, Plant Systematics, and genome data analysis. If you have questions, reach out to him via his homepage.

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HOW TO CITE THIS ARTICLE Tariq Abdullah (2019). Bioinformatics and programming languages- what do you need to know!. Bioinformatics Review, 5 (07)
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