The usual process of learning bioinformatics requires the solution of computational problems of varying difficulty that are extracted from real challenges of molecular biology. In an attempt to make this learning experience as effective as possible, we have founded Rosalind, a programming and testing environment for bioinformatics problems. The Rosalind website will check solutions to these problems automatically and will provide interested students with an intellectually stimulating way to learn the key concepts and algorithms of bioinformatics online. By its innovative approach, Rosalind also promises to facilitate improvements in standard bioinformatics education by providing a vital teaching aid.

Rosalind is inspired by Project Euler, Google Code Jam contests, and free online courses from Stanford University. The project's name commemorates Rosalind Franklin, whose X-ray crystallography facilitated the discovery of the double helix by Watson and Crick. We hope that Rosalind will inspire a new generation of bioinformatics students, including biologists who want to develop vital programming skills at their own pace in a unique environment, and also programmers who have never been exposed to the intriguing computational problems generated by molecular biology.

Rosalind will be launched in advance of RECOMB-BE. Please find below two sample problems that exhibit the desired format for Bioinformatics Education Problem submissions to RECOMB-BE. These two problems also illustrate the wide range of difficulty desired for Rosalind problems.

  1. Pairwise Alignment,” by Nikolay Vyahhi, St. Petersburg Academic University
  2. Signed Reversal Distance,” by Phillip Compeau, UC-San Diego