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Computational biology facts for kids

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Computational biology is an interdisciplinary field that applies the techniques of computer science, applied mathematics, and statistics to address problems inspired by biology. Major fields in biology that use computational techniques include:

  • Bioinformatics, which applies algorithms and statistical techniques to biological datasets that typically consist of large numbers of DNA, RNA, or protein sequences. Examples of specific techniques include sequence alignment, which is used for both sequence database searching and for comparison of homologous sequences; gene finding; and prediction of gene expression. (The term computational biology is sometimes used as a synonym for bioinformatics.)
  • Computational biomodeling, a field within biocybernetics concerned with building computational models of biological systems.
  • Computational genomics, a field within genomics which studies the genomes of cells and organisms by high-throughput genome sequencing that requires extensive post-processing known as genome assembly, and which uses DNA microarray technologies to perform statistical analyses on the genes expressed in individual cell types.
  • Molecular modeling, a field dealing with theoretical methods and computational techniques to model or mimic the behaviour of molecules, ranging from descriptions of a molecule of few atoms, to small chemical systems, to large biological molecules and material assemblies.
  • Systems biology, which aims to model large-scale biological interaction networks (also known as the interactome), often using differential equations.
  • Protein structure prediction and structural genomics, which attempt to systematically produce accurate structural models for three-dimensional protein structures that have not been solved experimentally.
  • Computational biochemistry and biophysics, which make extensive use of structural modeling and simulation methods such as molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo method-inspired Boltzmann sampling methods in an attempt to elucidate the kinetics and thermodynamics of protein functions.

Many people who work in computational biology are trained in biology, engineering, physics, statistics, or chemistry.

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