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27625 Algorithms in bioinformatics

Danish title:

Algoritmer i bioinformatik


Point( ECTS )


Course type:

Taught under single-course student
Technological specialization course, MSc. Eng., Bioinformatics Systems Biology
Technological specialization course, MSc. Eng., Pharmaceutical Design and Engineering




Campus Lyngby

Scope and form:

Lectures, discussions, exercises and project

Duration of Course:

3 weeks

Date of examination:

Decide with teacher

Type of assessment:



Previous Course:


Not applicable together with:

Recommended prerequisites:


Participants restrictions:

Minimum 10 Maximum: 50

General course objectives:

To provide the student with an overview and in-depth understanding of bioinformatics machine-learning algorithms. Enable the student to first evaluate which algorithm(s) are best suited for answering a given biological question and next implement and develop prediction tools based on such algorithms to describe complex biological problems such as immune system reactions, vaccine discovery, disease gene finding, protein structure and function, post-translational modifications etc.

Learning objectives:

A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:
  • Understand the details of the algorithms commonly used in bioinformatics.
  • Develop computer programs implementing these algorithms.
  • Identify which type of algorithm is best suited to describe a given biological problem.
  • Understand the concepts of data redundancy and homology reduction.
  • Develop bioinformatics prediction algorithms describing a given biological problem.
  • On a detailed level, the student will be able to implement and develop prediction tools using the following algorithms: Dynamic programming, Sequence clustering, Weight matrices, Artificial neural networks, and Hidden Markov models.
  • Design a project where a biological problem is analyzed using one or more machine learning algorithms.
  • Implement, document and present the course project.


The course will cover the most commonly used algorithms in bioinformatics. Emphasis will be on the precise mathematical implementation of the algorithms in terms of functional computer programs. During the course, biological problems will be introduced and analyzed with the purpose of highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the different algorithms. The following topics will be covered:

Dynamic programming: Needleman-Wunsch, Smith-Waterman, and alignment heuristics
Data redundancy and homology reduction: Hobohm and other clustering algorithms
Weight matrices: Sequence weighting, pseudo count correction for low counts, Gibbs sampling, and Psi-Blast
Hidden Markov Models: Model construction, Viterbi decoding, posterior decoding, and Baum-Welsh HMM learning
Artificial neural networks: Architectures and sequence encoding, feed-forward algorithm, and back propagation

The course will consist of lectures, discussion sessions and computer exercises, where the students will be introduced to the different algorithms, their implementation and use in analyzing biological problems. In the end of the course, the student will work on a group project were one or more of the algorithms introduced in the course are applied to analyze a biological problem of interest. The project report shall be written as a research paper.


27 Department of Systems Biology

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Last updated: 04. maj, 2015