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Nature, in Code: Biology in JavaScript

Learn JavaScript programming by implementing key biology concepts in code, including natural selection, genetics and epidemics.
This course is archived
Estimated 7 weeks
3–4 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

If you are interested in learning programming, but find pure programming courses not very exciting, this course is for you.

Instead of just learning programming principles outside of any context, you will learn JavaScript programming by implementing key biological concepts in code so they can run in your browser.

If you know a little (or a lot of) programming already, but want to learn more about the rules that govern life without having to pick up a traditional academic textbook, this course will also be of interest to you. You will learn some key ideas that form the basis of modern biology, from population genetics to evolutionary biology to infectious disease spread.

No prior programming knowledge needed.

At a glance

  • Institution: EPFLx
  • Subject: Computer Science
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:
    • Basic mathematics concepts
    • Basic biological concepts
  • Language: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Basic JavaScript programming
  • Key biological concepts that govern life
  • How to programmatically implement an idea or concept
  • How implementing an idea or concept in code is an efficient way to fully understand it

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2. The Genes, They Are a-Changin’
The Hardy Weinberg Principle
What Does Boring Look Like?

Chapter 3. Genetic Drift: The Power of Chance
Randomness
The Randomness of Finite Populations
Visualizing Drift
A Mathematical Formulation of Genetic Drift
Effective Population Size

Chapter 4. Mutation: The Power of Mistakes
The Fixation of Mutations

Chapter 5. Migration: Spatial Models
Quantifying Inbreeding

Chapter 6. Natural Selection: The Best Idea Anyone’s Ever Had
Directional Selection
Balancing Selection
Disruptive Selection
Coevolution

Chapter 7. Epidemics: The Spread of Infectious Diseases
The SIR Model
It’s a Small World

About the instructors

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