Java or C++

Korbinian Strimmer strimmer at ermine.ox.ac.uk
Sun Apr 16 11:42:08 EST 2000

> Which language will be "the language" in Bioinformatics, Java or C++?

In my view the answer depends entirely in which branch of bioinformatics
you would like to persue your career.

Mainstream bioinformatics ("applied bioinformatics") essentially aims at
providing and developing COMPUTATIONAL SUPPORT technology to aid
biological and medical research.  This task basically requires engineering
skills.  A good applied bioinformatician would probably not only be fluent
in BOTH Java and C++ but also in C, Perl, Tkl/Tk etc.  Additionally,
he/she would also have a solid knowledge of GUI libraries and
Networking/databases.  And of course sequence analysis.

Bioinformatics as a DISCIPLINE ("theoretical bioinformatics") requires
other skills, most importantly a good knowledge of maths and statistics
and a strong scientific interest in the field.  The main focus here is on
exploring and developing methods.  Programming skills are still useful but
"only" for scientific programming (modelling, computationally intensive
statistics etc.).  Fortran and C are the dominant languages here but both
C++ and Java are coming very strongly.  Personally, I would suggest to
learn C and Java.

Korbinian Strimmer                  http://users.ox.ac.uk/~strimmer
Dept. of Zoology, Univ. of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS

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