Best programming language for biology students?

Steve Firth steve at firthcom.demon.co.uk
Mon Apr 17 17:52:34 EST 1995


In article <3msmnq$eei at tbone.biol.scarolina.edu>, Dean Pentcheff 
writes:

> 
> Time to add my two cents to the ongoing fray.  I'm a biologist who's
> spent a lot of time doing computer or computer-related work in
> conjunction with my biology.  My programming background is strongly
> procedurally-oriented, so I can't speak at all to the desirability of
> OO or functional approaches.

This also matches my background and for my 2p (about 3c at current 
rates) I would focus on the question as "Best...for...students."

In which case I would recommend starting with Pascal. Not the most 
modern, not even "the best" from the view point of a computer 
professional but it will do anything a student could require and it will 
teach you good programming habits from day 1.

Everything else is varnish, useful for a professional finish but not 
essential for those first steps in programming and liable to lead to bad 
habits if you start by using a language that allows short cuts.

In my youth when the choice was a simple Basic/Pascal/Fortran, there was 
no better choice. Pascal could call Fortran libraries and could whistle 
up a good database. Though I now use C++, there are times (when studying 
other people's code) that I wish for the clarity of Pascal.

.......................................................................
Stephen Firth                                           Matthew: 27,  5
steve at firthcom.demon.co.uk                               Judges:  7, 17
CIS: 100023,3414




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