Best programming language for biology students?

Michael Torok mtorok at
Wed Apr 12 23:17:54 EST 1995

James Mahaffy (mahaffy at wrote:
: Folks:

: Can you give me a feel for what is the computer language that
: most biology graduate students program in?   When I was in grad school in
: the late 70's it seemed that FORTRAN was still the most widely
: used program.  We have a course at the college that is an
: introduction to programming that uses Basic and FORTRAN.  There
: seems to be less of a demand for the FORTRAN from our engineering
: department and this next semester the course will emphasize
: mostly BASIC (a structured basic - Visual Basic for Windows) in
: the course.  Should the Biology department push for keeping the
: FORTRAN or is there another language that we should emphasize. 
: We do have a also have a C language course if that is the
: direction the biologists are moving. 

I think VB for Windows is a great start to learn the basics (no pun 
intended) of programming. It is versatile, fairly intuitive, and allows 
the programmer to create user interfaces easily and quickly. Visual C is 
good for lower level programming. An introductory course on computer 
architecture would also be a good idea, particularly before moving into 
C and object oriented code structure.

My $.02

Michael L. Torok, M.S.              |    Specializing in:             
Consulting Wildlife Biologist       |     -  radio-telemetry          
Internet: mtorok at         |     -  custom engineering and   
Phone: 408-336-4530                 |        computer programming     
FAX: 408-335-3115                   |     -  marine environment       

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