Syllabus - Winter 2019

UCLA Department of Bioengineering

BIOENGR 188: Machine learning & data-driven modeling in bioengineering

Instructor: Prof. Aaron Meyer (, 4121G Engineering V

Class Hours: Lecture: Tuesdays/Thursdays, 2:00 – 3:50pm (Boelter Hall 5420)
Lab Section: Fridays, 2:00 – 3:50 pm (Bunche Hall 3153)

Teaching Assistant: Yi Luo (

Office Hours:



Required: None. Handouts will be provided as needed and posted on the website. Optional/Helpful Other Resources:

Course Description:

Manipulating biological systems requires techniques to interpret complex measurements. This project-based class will introduce techniques for inferring biological meaning from experimental measurements using computational and analytical techniques. The objectives of this course are (1) to give students a working knowledge of techniques for rigorously analyzing complex data sources, (2) to illustrate the frontier and open challenges in computational systems biology and bioengineering, and (3) to ensure familiarity with the necessary tools to effectively apply computation as part of an individual or group research effort. Lectures will introduce foundational applied machine learning and statistics techniques. Laboratory session will involve hands-on implementations from recent literature. Homework will be primarily project-based using recent literature-derived applications. There will be a midterm exam and final design project. The final projects will involve novel analysis of data derived from the literature using techniques from the course. Instructors will guide focus and development of the project.

Learning Goals:

By the end of the course you will have an increased understanding of:

  1. Critical Thinking and Analysis: Understand the process of identifying critical problems, analyzing current solutions, and determining alternative successful solutions.
  2. Engineering Design: Apply mathematical and scientific knowledge to identify, formulate, and solve problems in the chosen design area.
  3. Computational Modeling: Apply computational tools to solve and optimize engineering problems.
  4. Communicate Effectively: Learn how to give an effective presentation. Understand how to communicate progress orally and in written reports.
  5. Manage and Work in Teams: Learn to work and communicate effectively with peers to attain a common goal.

Important to know

The best way to contact me outside of class is by email. Students should be aware that I will not answer emails arriving after 10:30 PM or before 8:30 AM, and should not be counted on to answer emails immediately. I am happy to meet with students outside of class time to discuss questions or concerns. Please see me after class or contact me by email to set up an appointment.


This class is graded on a combination of exams, small project implementations, and a larger final project. Students earning high grades will have demonstrated the following:

Come, think critically, challenge yourself, and you will do well.

Computer & Cell Phone Policy

In our classroom, we will rely on each student being engaged in the conversation. To minimize distractions, please silence all phones. Computers are an extremely valuable research and learning tool and are encouraged in class. Please minimize use of your computer for unrelated activities, however, to avoid distractions.


30% ~ Final Project

30% ~ Midterm

20% ~ Homework Assignments

20% ~ Class Participation


Mid-way through the quarter, I will give each of you some feedback on your progress in the class. I also welcome freedback from you then or any other time. Please come speak with me if there are any issues about material in class or teaching style.

Title IX information

Title IX prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. If you have have experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence, you can receive confidential support and advocacy at the CARE Advocacy Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, 1st Floor Wooden Center West,, (310) 206-2465. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides confidential counseling to all students and can be reached 24/7 at (310) 825-0768. You can also report sexual violence or sexual harassment directly to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, 2241 Murphy Hall,, (310) 206-3417. Reports to law enforcement can be made to UCPD at (310) 825-1491. Faculty and TAs are required under the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment to inform the Title IX Coordinator should they become aware that you or any other student has experienced sexual violence or sexual harassment.