April 2, 2016

Testing: How much could I learn on Rosalind.info?

Hello, internet!

If you're curious what I get up to with my time, observe! I ran a little experiment today. This post reports it in a hodgepodge mix of "personal notes" and "terse scientific report".

If you take thirty seconds out of your day to comment, I will owe you one. Please encourage the norm of testing everyday ideas empirically; Be my miniature peer review.

How much would rosalind.info teach me?

I want to know the holes in my knowledge. If Rosalind actually helps, I want to train my internal motivation to prioritize working on it.


I currently can't do ~70% of problems. My learning trajectory looks unlikely to increase my capability beyond ~%50.


Experiment as proposed Mar 28 - count how many rosalind.info project list I can't do and how many I likely won't learn


Rosalind Problems Lists
glimpses at other references for algorithmic and data structure fundamentals


Apr 2: I ignored Biology Content Knowledge, except where the lack of deep understanding seriously impedes my ability to program the solution.

  • 6 understand
  • 13 understand
  • 14 don't understand yet
  • 78 doubt I'll cover
  • 4 understand
  • 2 don't understand yet
  • 9 doubt I'll cover
  • 16 understand
  • 39 don't understand yet
  • 70 doubt I'll cover
  • 12 understand
  • 18 don't understand yet
  • 4 doubt I'll cover
TOTALS 2:3:6
  • 51 understand
  • 73 don't understand yet
  • 161 doubt I'll cover


Technically speaking, Rosalind wouldn't teach me anything. It has practice problems and a minor amount of scaffolding; designing the solution remains up to me.

Rosalind can sharpen my current skill set some, and do a little more to stretch my limits (mostly in graphs). The vast majority of problems deal in bioinformatics-specific knowledge. If I want to focus on that, the "Bioinformatics Armory" set works would shore up relevant foundations while not wasting time on general skills. This accords with its stated purpose.

Python Village and Algorithmic heights make okay sources for general practice.


  • talk to an actual bioinformatics researcher, ask what they do and what tools they're using
  • try this experiment on an actual programming practice book, or a fundamentals checklist for comparison
  • google search for "waste of time rosalind.info" and "helped me rosalind.info", see if I can get some user experiences for how much it has helped other people
  • what does ONET say about the career outlook if I did decide to work in bioinformatics?
  • spend 5 minutes thinking about ways I could leverage bioinformatics domain knowledge in my other goals


  • Trawl the Rosalind problems for Anki cards
  • Throw the glossary into Anki
  • Share this feedback with rosalind.info

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