Bioinformatics: a Big Boon to the Field of Biological Investigation


Published Date : Jun 28, 2016

Bioinformatics refers to an interdisciplinary approach to store, retrieve, organize, and analyze biological and genetic data. A major part of this field comprises developing software tools to generate and process useful biological data. Bioinformatics is not to be confused with biological computation. While bioinformatics simply makes use of computers for the better understanding of biology can its related concepts, biological computation refers to the subfield of computer engineering that seeks to build biological computers by using biology and bioengineering concepts. 

Bioinformatics is, however, much similar to computational biology, only the scale of application and study differs - bioinformatics studies biological data on a molecular scale with keen attention to details while computational biology studies biological data by building large-scale theoretical models of biological systems and studying them with an abstract view to expand our knowledge about them.

Bioinformatics makes use of various laws of computer science, engineering, applied math and statistics to conceptualize biology in terms of bio-molecules (RNAs, DNAs) and process the resulting data in various ways in attempt to decode the code of life.

The use of computers has made the process of reading complex biological data much faster and efficient than before. Huge databases and information systems are used to store and retrieve data; analytical algorithms in soft computing, artificial intelligence, data mining, image processing, etc. are used to analyze data; algorithms in turn depend on theoretical principles of statistics, applied and discrete mathematics, system theory and control theory. As such, bioinformatics uses a good mix of many fundamental principles as well as many applied theories and sciences to manage biological data.

This field, which was originally developed for the analysis of biological sequences, has now grown to encompass a wide range of areas such as genomics, gene expression, and structural biology, allowing greater depth and breadth to biological investigations. This has essentially provided the opportunity to study individual systems in details with the ones that are related to reveal the similar traits between some systems and underline some unusual features, if any, which are unique to some.