Computer Science Background

For students without a strong Computer Science background

Students in the BISB program have backgrounds in Computer Science, Biology, Math, and related areas; however, particular strengths and interests vary. If you have not yet taken an undergraduate algorithms course, we strongly recommend that you take CSE 101 (Design and Analysis of Algorithms) or a similar class prior to the required BISB class CSE 282 / BENG 202 (Introduction to Bioinformatics Algorithms). We emphasize that CSE 101 is an elective, not a core class, and most BISB students do not take it while in the BISB program. The following is for people interested in taking it.

OPTION 1: Taking CSE 101. Undergrads have enrollment priority, so it can be difficult for grad students to get in; CSE advises that grad students have the best chance in the fall quarter. Fall is also good since CSE 282 is in the winter.

OPTION 2: You may be able to self-study from this past CSE 101 site (including slides & homework), at least while it's still available.

OPTION 3: Online courses on Coursera's Data Structures and Algorithms Specialization. Specifically, we recommend courses 1-3 out of the 6 courses in that series:

  • Course 1: Algorithmic Toolbox
  • Course 2: Data Structures
  • Course 3: Algorithms on Graphs
  • Courses 1 and 3 correspond to most of CSE 101, while Course 2 corresponds to part of CSE 100. Courses 4-6 go beyond what we are recommending.

UCSD students may take these Coursera classes for free; see enrollment and other details here. On successfully completing each course, Coursera will issue a certificate of completion, roughly like a “Pass” on a “Pass/Fail” grading scale. However, Coursera classes do not count for UCSD course credit, do not issue letter grades, do not appear on your UCSD transcript, and do not count towards your UCSD degree requirements, whereas CSE 101 does count. This is just an option for you to prepare for CSE 282 and other graduate CSE courses. Coursera classes have rolling enrollment dates year-round and essentially unlimited enrollment, so you can start any time instead of waiting for a new quarter or dealing with a waitlist.

Note: The external links above are current as of September 2019, but may change soon. Please contact the graduate program coordinator if they change.