Algorithms in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Spring 2023 - *grabs you personally by the throat* SAVE YOUR SOUL. DO NOT TAKE THIS COURSE. Unless you want to do 4 projects that have very little guidance in the specs, each split into 2 parts that require different types of outputs, on top of doing 7 homeworks, each with 4-10 Leetcode-like coding problems evaluated on a shitty $80 online textbook website (Stepik) where you have to download the input to your computer, run the code, and upload the outputs and pray that you matched the formatting exactly, otherwise repeat the process. (Also, I get Stepik advertising emails in Russian, which 1) I did not sign up for 2) I don't know Russian.) And about those projects, they decided to try something new this quarter: making us upload our results to a bioinformatics leaderboard website. The fun thing is that 1) They don't post the leaderboard until 2-3 days before the project is due. 2) Someone has to manually approve that you can join the leaderboard. Which means you wait for some poor TA to handle your request. 3) They don't post the grading thresholds WITH the project spec or even when they post the leaderboards sometimes, so if you finish your code early, you have to wait for the announcement of the threshold. If you don't pass it? Guess you're working on the project again! I have never taken a class with this many Canvas announcements about project extensions and grading thresholds and about homework problems becoming Extra Credit because very few people are successfully solving it. And have I mentioned that they also made us read 4 papers and ask and answer other students' questions about it? To me, it felt like the blind leading the blind. The only saving grace of this course is that the midterm was reasonable. If you read and understand the textbook and the slides (which is what I did because their lecturing is Pretty Bad, especially Ernst's), you can do the problems. They just make you apply the techniques to the given data. They also gave a set of practice problems that matched pretty closely. I'm writing this review before the final though, so maybe they decide to completely switch it up on us. (But, I'm skimming the final practice problems, it seems like it's the same problem format.) Who knows. Maybe you'll enjoy the torture more than I did. Maybe you're that kid who was already working on a bioinformatics library for their research and used it for Project 1, landing you a score in the top 3, at which point you're obligated to do a presentation of your solution to the class. The class is mostly empty, by the way. Just like how this class made me feel. Grade breakdown for Spring 2023: Projects 25%. Homeworks 20%. Midterm Exam 25%. Final Exam 25%. Paper/Guest Speaker Question and Responses 5%.