Genomics in Wolfram|Alpha

When we were building the initial version of Wolfram|Alpha, one of my first challenges was to extend the genome search engine I wrote for the Wolfram Language so it could return results in Wolfram|Alpha:

Along with genome searches, I built a database of genes so Wolfram|Alpha users could drill down on specific genes matching the query sequence. For a given gene you can see the chromosome location:

… nearby genes:

… and gene homologs in other species:

… among other things.

The info-graphics are all generated dynamically on the Wolfram|Alpha servers, specific to the gene named in the query string. Creating each graphic was an adventure in hacking the Wolfram Language graphics primitives, combined with finicky algorithms to place graphics elements correctly (much like using css directives and Javascript functions to draw pictures in the DOM).

We also allowed users to see the physical properties of the query sequences, in particular the melting temperature and its dependence on salt concentration: