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DNA computing is a form of computing which uses DNA and biochemistry and molecular biology, instead of the traditional silicon-based computer technologies. DNA computing, or, more generally, molecular computing, is a fast developing interdisciplinary area. R&D in this area concerns theory, experiments and applications of DNA computing.
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This field was initially developed by Leonard Adleman of the University of Southern California. In 1994, Adleman demonstrated a proof-of-concept use of DNA as a form of computation which solved the seven-point Hamiltonian path problem. Since the initial Adleman experiments, advances have been made and various Turing machines have been proven to be constructible.
In 2002, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, unveiled a programmable molecular computing machine composed of enzymes and DNA molecules instead of silicon microchips. The computer could perform 330 trillion operations per second, more than 100,000 times the speed of the fastest PC. 
On April 28 2004, Ehud Shapiro, Yaakov Benenson, Binyamin Gil, Uri Ben-Dor, and Rivka Adar at the Weizmann Institute announced in the journal Nature that they had constructed a DNA computer. This was coupled with an input and output module and is capable of diagnosing cancerous activity within a cell, and then releasing an anti-cancer drug upon diagnosis.
DNA computing is fundamentally similar to parallel computing in that it takes advantage of the many different molecules of DNA to try many different possibilities at once.
For certain specialized problems, DNA computers are faster and smaller than any other computer built so far. But DNA computing does not provide any new capabilities from the standpoint of computational complexity theory, the study of which computational problems are difficult to solve. For example, problems which grow exponentially with the size of the problem (EXPSPACE problems) on von Neumann machines still grow exponentially with the size of the problem on DNA machines. For very large EXPSPACE problems, the amount of DNA required is too large to be practical. (Quantum computing, on the other hand, does provide some interesting new capabilities).
DNA computing overlaps with, but is distinct from, DNA nanotechnology. The latter uses the specificity of Watson-Crick basepairing and other DNA properties to make novel structures out of DNA. These structures can be used for DNA computing, but they do not have to be. Additionally, DNA computing can be done without using the types of molecules made possible by DNA nanotechnology (as the above examples show).
Examples of DNA computing
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "DNA_computing". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|