Teaching ResourceCOMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY

An Introduction to MATLAB

Sci. Signal.  20 Sep 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 191, pp. tr7
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2001984

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Abstract

This two-part lecture introduces students to the scientific computing language MATLAB. Prior computer programming experience is not required. The lectures present basic concepts of computer programming logic that tend to cause difficulties for beginners in addition to concepts that relate specifically to the MATLAB language syntax. The lectures begin with a discussion of vectors, matrices, and arrays. Because many types of biological data, such as fluorescence images and DNA microarrays, are stored as two-dimensional objects, processing these data is a form of array manipulation, and MATLAB is especially adept at handling such array objects. The students are introduced to basic commands in MATLAB, as well as built-in functions that provide useful shortcuts. The second lecture focuses on the differences between MATLAB scripts and MATLAB functions and describes when one method of programming organization might be preferable to the other. The principles are illustrated through the analysis of experimental data, specifically measurements of intracellular calcium concentration in live cells obtained using confocal microscopy.

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