A DNA computer can calculate the square root of numbers up to 900

Gianluca Riccio


While part of the research focuses on quantum computing, elsewhere the capabilities of biological computing are tested with a DNA computer.

A computer consisting of DNA strands placed in a test tube is capable of performing calculations on the square root of numbers up to 900.

Chunlei Guo, a researcher at the University of Rochester in New York state and his colleagues have developed a DNA computer. To be more precise: have developed a computer that uses 32 DNA strands to store and process information.

“And nothing, it amazes even so”.

The DNA computer can calculate the square root of the numbers 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 and so on up to 900.

The biological computer created by the University of Rochester team uses a process known as hybridization, which occurs when two strands of DNA come together to form double stranded DNA.

How the DNA computer works

The one relating to a DNA computer is one of the paths along which research is moving. As one branch of computer science moves towards quantum computing, there are research groups that they rely on the power of the genetic code.

In the specific case, to start the team coding a number through DNA, using a combination of ten building blocks. Each combination represents a different number up to 900 and is connected to a fluorescence marker.

The team then controls the hybridization in such a way as to change the overall fluorescent signal to match the square root of the original number. The number is then deducted from the color.

A future of biological informatics

“The biological computer could help develop even more structured processing circuits,” says Guo. “DNA processing is still in its infancy, but holds great promise for solving problems that are too difficult or even impossible for current silicon-based computers to handle”.

Guo believes that biological computers may one day soon replace traditional computers with complex calculations.

Here are the details of the study just published by the research team.

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