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DNA, Computers, and Killer Apps

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathLand)
Description: When computer scientists look at DNA, they see information storage and processing. They view the four bases of DNA as something akin to the zeros and ones of the binary code by which computers store and process information. They look for algorithms, theorems, data structures, and combinatorial patterns. Adleman was able to find a particular path through an array of points and one-way, point-to-point links by assigning each point a unique code name. Each code name was in the form of a short, single-stranded DNA sequence made up of 20 bases. Each one-way link between two points was represented by a strand consisting of the complements of the last 10 bases of the starting point and the complements of the first 10 bases of the destination point. By using various biochemical operations, Adleman could tie together these strands to create longer molecules representing all the possible paths from point to point and then select the one corresponding to the answer he was looking for.

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Combinatorics, History and Biography, Biology, Chemistry

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