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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I) by University of California San Diego

952 ratings

About the Course

Named a top 50 MOOC of all time by Class Central! This course begins a series of classes illustrating the power of computing in modern biology. Please join us on the frontier of bioinformatics to look for hidden messages in DNA without ever needing to put on a lab coat. In the first half of the course, we investigate DNA replication, and ask the question, where in the genome does DNA replication begin? We will see that we can answer this question for many bacteria using only some straightforward algorithms to look for hidden messages in the genome. In the second half of the course, we examine a different biological question, when we ask which DNA patterns play the role of molecular clocks. The cells in your body manage to maintain a circadian rhythm, but how is this achieved on the level of DNA? Once again, we will see that by knowing which hidden messages to look for, we can start to understand the amazingly complex language of DNA. Perhaps surprisingly, we will apply randomized algorithms, which roll dice and flip coins in order to solve problems. Finally, you will get your hands dirty and apply existing software tools to find recurring biological motifs within genes that are responsible for helping Mycobacterium tuberculosis go "dormant" within a host for many years before causing an active infection....

Top reviews


Jul 29, 2018

This course is very very good. Challenging at times. It does not hold your hand at all times and sometimes requires research to solve some of the problems, but I like the community and the approach.


Apr 6, 2020

Excellent introduction to bioinformatics. They put a lot of heart and thought into the design of the course. I will continue to use the concepts I've learned in and out of bioinformatics.

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201 - 225 of 229 Reviews for Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I)

By Hugo A M A

Jun 11, 2020

It´s too dificult. It says that this course is for beginners, and during the course they assume that we know Python or any other programming language. I passed the first week of bioinformatics 1, but I gave up with the second week. I recommend first doing the course "Biology meets programming".

By Hanna A

Jun 17, 2021

Die Inhalte waren verständlich und gut strukturiert, jedoch braucht man Vorkenntnisse bezüglich des Programmierens, da dies nicht wirklich erklärt, aber für die Honors-Aufgaben vorausgesetzt werden. Der Pseudocode ist leider keine Hilfe dabei.

By Paula T I P

Apr 19, 2020

You need an intermediate/advanced level in programming to be able to do the honours track, if you can't do it the course is completely useless because you can only read about how to code without being able to do the coding.

By Antonio H

Apr 6, 2022

The course says that anyone can participate without knowing programming, but since the first module is necessary to use some language programming to complete the tasks; learn the biologic lessons is not enough.


Aug 20, 2021

I have to quit in w3. Algorithms are important in this field, but I failed to find the passion to solve these pure mathematical problems if they're already done by smart people.

By Osimhiarherhuo A

Apr 28, 2020

An interesting course that i would have love to study but with no computer programming knowledge, studying this course has been very difficult and not encouraging

By Zarif H

Jul 29, 2020

I strongly suggest anyone who opts to attend this course to have solid python fundamentals (or Java, Javascript, C, etc).

By Sama A A

Jul 1, 2020

Their is not enough explanation for the algorithms found in the video and code

By Aastha S

Jul 19, 2020

Pseudo codes are not well explained

By Steven K

May 14, 2020

The information presented in the course was very helpful; however, much of the presentation on Stepik was difficult to parse and required several reads through in order to understand what was being said. For some later explanations, I didn't understand the lesson until after I had created a working program. I also had to rely heavily on past user comments to clarify particularly difficult explanations.

The course was divided into a regular section and the "hacker track" honors section and only the latter of which requires programming. In theory, this means the course can be completed without knowing how to program since the final project doesn't require you to write code. In practice, the lessons seemed geared towards getting you to write working code. I think I would have been very hard-pressed to understand the course if I was not translating the lessons into working programs. I certainly would not have been able to get any good feedback on if I was doing it right since only programs were graded.

I have no plans at this point to continue the specialization. I want to learn more bioinformatics techniques, but I worry that the rest of the courses will be as frustrating as this one and so I will likely look elsewhere.

By Jonathon T

Jul 27, 2018

Instructions are often not clear and require you to read the comments to even grasp what the problems are asking for. Also the format for teaching is to teach you a bad way to solve a problem then go "well that didn't work out, lets try a different way." I felt these were a waste of my time as I sat around trying to understand why I was being asked to solve a problem in such an inefficient manner.

By Ambar N

Dec 18, 2020

Despite getting 100% in Week1 and Week2 quiz as well as passing Hacker's Track requirements, I got stuck in Week3 and could not proceed from there. The pseudocode for few of the algorithms is impossible to translate into workable code. And once you get stuck there's no help. Solutions are posted in comments but it's no use copying other learners' code to pass the course!

By Michael O S

May 6, 2020

Childish, pandering to idiots. The comics are mediocre and the professors don't take anything seriously. I cannot fathom how anyone would understand the standards of professionalism required of someone working in the Bioinformatics industry through this lecture series.

Terrible. Absolutely terrible.


Aug 21, 2020

This course is not for beginners. Should have mentioned that one needs some understanding of a coding language to understand the text included. You will need to know how to write codes and apply them before staring this course.

By Jan G

Dec 14, 2019

The course is basically abandoned. The figures in the interactive text don't show up and the are very few people available who can grade your assignment. There's no support left in case you're stuck.

By Howard ( R

Mar 26, 2023

Development of the honors track material was extremely shoddy. I was spending way more time hacking their hack job than learning the material.

By Elham G

Feb 3, 2021

This course was so confusing. I would appreciate to see a solved exercise rather than just giving a clue. It would help to learn better fast.

By Guadalupe F E

Apr 28, 2021

Los cuestionarios no pueden resolverse con lo que se enseña en el curso, deberían acoplarse mejor a lo que se explica en el curso.

By Nur A A P

May 25, 2020

Tutorials are not well explained. Not for beginners!

You must have vast knowledge of programming and algorithm beforehand!

By Georgi E

May 16, 2020

Problems have very unclear directions. It takes longer to figure out what the question wants than to solve it.

By Tomas R

Sep 17, 2016

Some of the algorithms are pretty cool but overall the course is not worth it. The material is pretty weak.

By Michael M S

May 7, 2020

Not simple and require pre-knowledge of a programming language (best to be python)

By Aiswarya K A

Dec 17, 2020

I am not able to understand quiz questions.

By Carlos C

Jul 13, 2020

it's not suitable for a non-programmer.

By Keren S

Dec 10, 2021

The professors of this course are very off-base on the amount of time each lesson will take each student. While suggesting the first lesson will take 10 minutes to complete, it in fact takes several hours and the comments on each chapter of the lesson shows that this is experienced by dozens of students who take the course. Additionally, the success rate of the "quizzes" in this course should be an indicator to the professors as to whether they are teaching the course in a beneficial or poor manner. A 28% pass rate on the quiz in the first lesson displays a failure of the professors to properly pass over the material to the students. What's more disappointing is that the professors seem to not check in whatsoever on this course: if they did, they would have immediately noticed that in the comments throughout the chapters many students are lost, and those that aren't are cleaning up the professors' mess and breaking down the material for the students who may look to the comments in the future for help. This course is awful.