Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

January 3, 2020

Computer made from 32 strands of DNA can now compute the square root of 900

Filed under: News/Articles,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 4:28 PM

Early this century (around year 2000 onwards) there were three main projects goingon in parallel, each of which promised to be the next great breakthrough in Computing which would change the world. These were: DNA Computing, Optical Computing and Quantum computing. Then, something changed and Quantum computing took over. In the past few years the tech news & papers have primarily focused on Quantum Computing breakthroughs (which to be fair have been quite significant) and Optical & DNA Computers on the other hand seemed to have dropped off the map with hardly any news coming from that front. But that has just changed. Thanks to the efforts of Chunlei Guo and his colleagues at the University of Rochester, New York we now have a working DNA computer that uses 32 strands and can compute the square root of square numbers 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 and so on up to 900. This might not sound like much but is a pretty big deal as now that we can create a system that uses chemistry to compute square roots we can probably get DNA circuits to do anything.

The prospect of programming molecular computing systems to realize complex autonomous tasks has advanced the design of synthetic biochemical logic circuits. One way to implement digital and analog integrated circuits is to use noncovalent hybridization and strand displacement reactions in cell‐free and enzyme‐free nucleic acid systems. To date, DNA‐based circuits involving tens of logic gates capable of implementing basic and complex logic functions have been demonstrated experimentally. However, most of these circuits are still incapable of realizing complex mathematical operations, such as square root logic operations, which can only be carried out with 4 bit binary numbers. A high‐capacity DNA biocomputing system is demonstrated through the development of a 10 bit square root logic circuit. It can calculate the square root of a 10 bit binary number (within the decimal integer 900) by designing DNA sequences and programming DNA strand displacement reactions. The input signals are optimized through the output feedback to improve performance in more complex logical operations. This study provides a more universal approach for applications in biotechnology and bioengineering.

The paper published in “Small” has more details but is behind a paywall (which sucks) so I don’t have much more details than what the New Scientist article and the paper abstract share. At the price they are asking I don’t think its value for money just so that I can satisfy my curiosity about the breakthrough. If you disagree and download the paper, please share 🙂

Looking forward to more such news (in a accessible journal) in 2020.

– Suramya

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