View Full Version : summary: MS in biomechanics computer courses

M. Butcher
06-22-1998, 12:22 PM
Dear Colleagues;

Following is a summary of responses to my original posting requesting the
computer language and text book preference for masters level students in
biomechanics. Please accept my sincere appreciation to those of you who
responded. Our program proposal goes to the various department and
university committees this fall, then should be in place and accepting
students the fall of 1999.

Monique Butcher PhD ATC
Barry University
11300 NE 2nd Ave.
Miami Shores, FL 33161
(305) 899-3064

The responses:

1. I think the best thing to teach would be a combination of matlab, PV
type 'languages' along with some Visual Basic/Office Macro programming. I
have done C, Fortran, Basic, but using these are not nearly as efficient as

the previous techniques.

Bryan Kirking
Research Engineer
Department of Orthopedic Surgery
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas

2. Ten to fifteen years ago Fortran was predominant. Since than C has
become the dominant language. It is an extremely flexible and powerful
language but very difficulty to learn. Lately, because of Visual Basic
the Basic language has been resurrected. A student can quickly build
a Windows oriented program with an elegant graphical interface. Presently,
I would recommend it as the way to introduce programming. Of course,
another very reasonable alternative is Matlab. Many biomechanics labs
are using it to produce analytical software. One could also make use
of a spreadsheet program, such as, Corel Quattro or MS Excel. These are
easy to use with built in graphics packages.

May the moment of force be with you.

D. Gordon E. Robertson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomechanics

3. C/C++
Good q.; I never learned from a text book. But, probably your best
bet is to walk over to the local University book store and lookthrough the
O'Reilly books. They are fairly inexpensive paper back
publications that are well regarded in the Computer
Engineering/General Engineering/Scientific/Computer Science community.

Ted Morris

4. 1. Programming Language - MATLAB.
Though not purely a language, it is exactly right for the job.

-- Santosh Zachariah --

Research Associate, Dept. of Bioengineering
Univ. of Washington, Box 352255, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
ph: (206) 685-3488, fax: (206) 543-6124

5. DO a lot of scientific based programming - filtering, interfacing with
sensors, calculations, running averages, even FFT's. It doesn't matter so
much what the language is as much as what the student can do and how
they are. Interfacing is key, so perhaps more emphasis on that. Focusing
theory, program design and then application would be great. At least this
what has worked for me, personally.
I have worked in QuickBasic, VisualBasic, Turbo Pascal, and LabView.
Visual or object oriented languages are gaining ground and justifiably so.

Many people told me years ago to work on Fortran because so much code is
written in it. I have never seen a Biomechanics program written in
So much of Biomechanics is writing programs from scratch or evolving
you may have to write yourself.
Good luck.


Jon Fewster

These opinions are mine and not those of my company.

6. Dear Monique:

If you'd asked me this question two years ago, I would have said C++, but
now I'd recommend a combination of Java and C++, emphasizing their
similarities. I don't know of a good engineering-oriented text for either.


Tony Hodgson
Mechanical Engineering Dept.
University of BC

7. Perhaps the choice of a "paper" text is not necessary. Have you used
Metrowerks Code Warrior package? It provides ability to make programs
in C, C++, Pascal and Java on both Macintosh and Windows. For "plain
vanilla" applications in C or C++, the Mac and Windows versions can be
made simultaneously. The package also includes, in several electronic
formats, virtually any text (basic programming, language specific, platform
specific and program specific) you will need. I prefer to teach based on
"regular" C and challenge the students to branch out. Code Warrior
costs about $500 for the commercial version, but there is an academic
package with everything on 3 CD's for about $99. They do site licenses
for schools.

| Stephen Dubin VMD PhD |
|School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems |
| Drexel University, Philadelphia PA 19104 |
| Phone: 215-895-2219 Fax: 215-895-4983 |
| Email: dubinse@duvm.ocs.drexel.edu |
| http://biomed6.coe.drexel.edu/faculty_profiles/dubin.html |
| Guerir quelquefois, Soulager souvent, Consoler toujours |

8. I believe that a good exposure to a programming language such as "C" or
and a more OOP such as "Visual Basic" [VB] may prove beneficial.
Text sources that I would suggest are:

1. C programming: a modern approach. By K. N. King
2. Algorithms in C++. By Robert Sedgewick.

There are more current texts in VB than what I may recommend.
Good luck.

A. Daya PT MSc
Assistant Professor
Barry University
Miami Shores, FL 33161

9. As an information systems professional with over 25 years experience,
I'd highly
recommend SAS (Statistical Analysis System) from SAS Institute, Cary, NC.
As far as
text, whatever the instructor chose (the SAS publications are pretty good).
SAS can
be used for statistical purposes (as the name implies), but can also be
used for
general business purposes. I've used it in both venues.

Tom Puddicombe

10. From both an industrial and research perspective, I think you'll be
well served if you choose LabView as your programming language
(icon-based, compiled in C). Among providers of data acquisition
hardware and software, National Instruments has been the most
recognized supplier for 4 years in a row. Their hardware sales are
more than double that of their closest competitor and software sales
are also #1. I've been using their hardware and software for a wide
variety of biomechanics and biomedical research for eight years and
honestly can say that it has helped me complete more projects than all

my other programming background combined.

Jeffrey P. Rouleau, Ph.D.
Manager of Mechanical Testing & Analysis
Wright Medical Technology, Inc.

11. One package I have found very helpful in the Medical Research and
Engineering forum is National Instruments software called LabVIEW. I
originally learned it during my Master's and continue to use it since my
graduation a few years ago. I have used it in the Hospital Environment,
University Research, and Consulting Engineering for Instrumentation and
Control. We currently use it for linking a variety of soft tissue and
kinematics measuring systems via the serial port and A/D boards.

There is a LabVIEW listserver you can subscribe to for programming bugs and
problems, I have included the information below.

I look forward to your summary posting - Andrew

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12. Visual Basic

Steven T. McCaw, Ph.D
Associate Professor, Biomechanics
Dept of HPER
5120 Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-5120

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