Generally, raw data is presented to the computer in text files, which can be read by a computer as well by a human being.
Like all other data, most biological data, used by a computer programme are presented in a file format using word processing packages. However, in molecular biology, the structural and sequence data of nucleic acids and proteins are presented in standard file formats, which, in addition to sequence and structural information provide other auxiliary information.
Three such standard formats are in practice: NBRF (National Biomedical Research Foundation) / PIR (Protein Information Resource) format; FASTA format and GDE format.
A computer does not understand the language that we speak and write. It understands its native language. The description of a task is first written in its native language and then a command is given to carry out the task. Thus, programming in a computer is comparable to bricklaying in construction work. Both are creative; but one is an art, while the other is a craft. Now, a computer programme is not written in its native language.
Higher level languages, such as, C, C++, PERL (Practical Extraction and Report Language) and FORTRAN are used, instead. The choice of the programming language depends upon the nature of algorithm and the associated data structure.
But the students learning Bioinformatics need not be worried about writing complicated programming languages. All the necessary tools are available on the Web. The only thing a student heeds to have is to develop an expertise and skill to access and use these tools.
INTERNET and WORLD WIDE WEB (WWW) have an increasing application in Bioinformatics. Let’s have a bird’s eye view on these aspects before taking up with each of the aforementioned sections.