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Cellular Computing$
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Martyn Amos

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195155396

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195155396.001.0001

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An Introduction to Cellular Computing

An Introduction to Cellular Computing

(p.3) 1 An Introduction to Cellular Computing
Cellular Computing

Martyn Amos

Gerald Owenson

Oxford University Press

The abstract operation of complex natural processes is often expressed in terms of networks of computational components such as Boolean logic gates or artificial neurons. The interaction of biological molecules and the flow of information controlling the development and behavior of organisms is particularly amenable to this approach, and these models are well established in the biological community. However, only relatively recently have papers appeared proposing the use of such systems to perform useful, human-defined tasks. Rather than merely using the network analogy as a convenient technique for clarifying our understanding of complex systems, it is now possible to harness the power of such systems for the purposes of computation. The purpose of this volume is to discuss such work. In this introductory chapter we place this work in historical context and provide an introduction to some of the underlying molecular biology. We then introduce recent developments in the field of cellular computing. Despite the relatively recent emergence of molecular computing as a distinct research area, the link between biology and computer science is not a new one. Of course, for years biologists have used computers to store and analyze experimental data. Indeed, it is widely accepted that the huge advances of the Human Genome Project (as well as other genome projects) were only made possible by the powerful computational tools available to them. Bioinformatics has emerged as the science of the 21st century, requiring the contributions of truly interdisciplinary scientists who are equally at home at the lab bench or writing software at the computer. However, the seeds of the relationship between biology and computer science were sown long ago, when the latter discipline did not even exist. When, in the 17th century, the French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes declared to Queen Christina of Sweden that animals could be considered a class of machines, she challenged him to demonstrate how a clock could reproduce. Three centuries later, with the publication of The General and Logical Theory of Automata [19] John von Neumann showed how a machine could indeed construct a copy of itself.

Keywords:   Activator, Bioinformatics, Clock, Effector, Glucose, Interdisciplinarity, Lactose, Oscillator, Repressor

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