Blog Archives

BioMart (and biomaRt)

March 26, 2010
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BioMart (and biomaRt)

I’ve been vaguely aware of BioMart for a few years. Inexplicably, I’ve only recently started to use it. It’s one of the most useful applications I’ve ever used. The concept is simple. You have a set of identifiers that describe a biological object, such as a gene. These are called filters. They have values –

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From the “blogosphere”? Hardly.

January 27, 2010
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From the “blogosphere”? Hardly.

I generally skip over “From the Blogosphere”, a (mostly) weekly-summary of one or two blog posts in Nature’s “Authors” section (here is the latest). Why? Well, I’ve always suspected that the title is rather misleading. Now, I have the hard numbers to prove it. My feed reader contains an archive of 128 articles, dating back

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A new twist on the identifier mapping problem

January 11, 2010
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A new twist on the identifier mapping problem

Yesterday, Deepak wrote about BridgeDB, a software package to deal with the “identifier mapping problem”. Put simply, biologists can name a biological entity in any way that they like, leading to multiple names for the same object. Easily solved, you might think, by choosing one identifier and sticking to it, but that’s apparently way too

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Samples per series/dataset in the NCBI GEO database

January 7, 2010
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Samples per series/dataset in the NCBI GEO database

Andrew asks: I want to get an NCBI GEO report showing the number of samples per series or data set. Short of downloading all of GEO, anyone know how to do this? Is there a table of just metadata hidden somewhere? At work, we joke that GEO is the only database where data goes in,

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The Life Scientists at FriendFeed: 2009 summary

December 23, 2009
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The Life Scientists at FriendFeed: 2009 summary

It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow and so I declare the year over. My Christmas gift to you is a summary of activity in 2009 at the FriendFeed Life Scientists group. It’s crafted using R + Ruby, with raw data and some code snippets available. If you want to see the most popular items from the group

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APIs: I wish the life sciences would learn from social networks

December 10, 2009
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APIs: I wish the life sciences would learn from social networks

I was prompted by a thread on the apparent decline of FriendFeed to look for evidence of declining participation in my networks. First, a quick and dirty Ruby script, tls.rb to grab the Life Scientists feed and count the likes and comments: #!/usr/bin/ruby require 'rubygems' require 'json/pure' require 'net/http' require 'open-uri' def format_date(d) if d

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A brief survey of R web interfaces

November 29, 2009
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A brief survey of R web interfaces

I’m looking at ways to provide access to R via a web application. First rule: see what’s available first, before you reinvent the wheel. It’s not pretty. From the R Web Interfaces FAQ: Software Brief notes Rweb Page last updated 1999. Of the 3 example links on the page one ran very slowly, the second not at

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R has a JSON package

November 5, 2009
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R has a JSON package

Named rjson, appropriately. It’s quite basic just now, but contains methods for interconversion between R objects and JSON. Something like this: > library(rjson) > data <- list(a=1,b=2,c=3) > json <- toJSON(data) > json "{\"a\":1,\"b\":2,\"c\":3}" > cat(json, file="data.json") Use cases? I wonder if RApache could be used to build an API that serves R data in JSON format? Posted in

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RSRuby in the IRB console

August 6, 2009
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RSRuby in the IRB console

R is terrific, of course, for all your statistical needs. But those data structures! “Everything is a list.” Leading to such wondrous ways to access variables as “p <- Meta(gds)$platform", or "last <- mylist]])]". Sometimes, you want something more familiar. An array, a hash, a hash of arrays. Or, you may

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Baby steps with RSRuby in Rails

May 20, 2009
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Baby steps with RSRuby in Rails

Plotting and charting libraries for Ruby (on Rails) abound. However, few are sophisticated enough for scientists and many are not actively maintained. Plotting in R, on the other hand, is about as sophisticated as it comes. Can we bridge Ruby and R? Yes we can, thanks to Alex Gutteridge’s RSRuby. The next

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