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Topic: {math required for} Protein crystallography  (Read 6200 times)

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Offline Ingeniosuccinimide

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{math required for} Protein crystallography
« on: January 18, 2015, 05:51:05 PM »
I need an advice:

I have to choose one free-choice course to listen this semester, and due to a currently poor offer, the only offered course that seems interesting at the moment is protein crystallography course (determination of structure by x-ray diffraction on single crystals).

Now, by default I'm a master student in organic synthesis, and I have quite scarce background in math from my old university, since we did a lot of calculus but almost no linear algebra, matrices and vectors, and the circumstances are such that I don't have a lot of time for learning all of that, and this course does not offer that.

Considering all of that, I'm a doubt now about taking this course. Would it be too risky? What amount and type of math knowledge is needed for protein structure determination from crystals?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2015, 08:37:36 AM by Arkcon »

Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: {math required for} Protein crystallography
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2015, 09:24:59 AM »
I have some modest experience in this area, yet your question is impossible to answer without more knowledge as to the specifics of this course.  Do you know what textbook is being used?  Gale Rhodes' book "Crystallography Made Crystal Clear" or David Blow's book Outline of Crystallography for Biologists" would be two likely choices, and neither one is terribly mathematical.  The more one knows about space groups going in, the better off one would be IMO.

Offline Yggdrasil

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Re: {math required for} Protein crystallography
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2015, 11:30:20 AM »
As Babcock_Hall mentioned, courses can vary widely depending on the amount of math required.  Protein crystallography courses tend to be focused towards biology students, many of whom do not have strong quantitative backgrounds, so the math gets dumbed down significantly.  Still, there is a lot of math behind the basic concepts and those with a strong background in abstract algebra (esp group theory) and analysis, or who has taken some applied math courses geared towards physicists would probably be well ahead of their classmates.

It would probably be worth contacting the professor teaching the course to see what type of background in math is required.

Offline Ingeniosuccinimide

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Re: {math required for} Protein crystallography
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2015, 10:17:30 PM »
Unfortunately I don't know the extent of this course since nothing is written on the webpage, but I'll try to contact someone. BTW the course is organised by the chemistry department for the chemists, I think biologists have their own different course.

I was just curious about what kind of math knowledge is a must, since I have no background in Fourier, linear algebra and various operators, matrix manipulations etc. When it comes to abstract algebra I also don't know absolutely anything.

Offline Ingeniosuccinimide

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Re: {math required for} Protein crystallography
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2015, 03:11:18 PM »
B u m p.

No crystallographers around?

Offline billnotgatez

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Re: {math required for} Protein crystallography
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2015, 03:47:08 PM »
I think you need to reread the forum rules - especially about bumping.
Click on the link near the top center of the forum page.
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Offline Ingeniosuccinimide

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Re: {math required for} Protein crystallography
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2015, 05:42:28 PM »
On the course webpage it's written that two textbooks are used:

Clegg et. al. "Crystal Structure Analysis: Principles and Practice"
David Blow "Outline of Crystallography for Biologists"

When it comes to the "presrequisites" section, it states that the "basic biochemistry knowledge and proficiency in math is required". That is particularly annoying since it does not mention which math topics.

Offline Arkcon

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Re: {math required for} Protein crystallography
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2015, 08:00:06 PM »
That's sloppy writing of the prerequisites to be sure.  My best guess is that it doesn't really require any particular type of math at all.  You just simply have to not be math phobic.  I.E., this is not a class for English majors.  Classes of this sort, in my day, were more specific, they'd say you need to have complete Calculus II, or be taking Multivariable Algebra concurrently.  They'd tell you if the class was computer intensive, or not.  But that was a long time ago.  Nowadays, such distinctions aren't made at all -- everyone outside of the basic sciences seems to take such courses.  And really, does anyone in this world not use a computer to do the sciences?
Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: {math required for} Protein crystallography
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 05:13:06 PM »
David Blow's book makes use of vectors and has some calculus.  I would not call it the most mathematical treatment of crystallography I have ever seen.  It also makes use of space groups.

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