Why this book?
If this book had to have a mission statement, we would say that it is designed to help you make the transition from computer user to computer programmer.
We wrote this book with life scientists in mind. But it is equally appropriate for anyone who needs to slice and dice large, diverse data sets. A few years ago, biologists did not need to know how to program. With the arrival of the Human Genome Project and other -omic technologies, biology has been transformed into an incredibly data-rich science. While the science is moving ahead at a staggering rate, most people have not changed themselves to match. Not everyone needs to know how to program, but for those that desire it, this book will help them catch up quickly.
We have both watched students struggle with trying to analyze mountains of data, and sometimes the struggle has not been because the students lack the ability to tackle the problem. Rather, it is because they frequently lack the tools to tackle the problem. For many people, data analysis means ‘using a spreadsheet.’ Sometimes this is all you need, but for many problems a programming solution will be faster, easier, and much more powerful.
This is not a book for dummies or idiots. Conversely, it’s also not for super-geniuses. It’s for ordinary educated people who haven’t needed to program until now. Whether the topic is language, mathematics, or programming, some people learn faster than others. But we all learn to read, write, multiply, and divide. And we can all learn to program. Rest assured, you can program. We are happy to be your guides.