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In DNA computing, computational problems are translated into DNA-like strings, which are mixed in a test tube. Their properties guide the way in which these strings combine into DNA strands, and this combination provides the solution to the problem.
Because the process takes advantage of the ability of the many different components of DNA to try many different possibilities at once, DNA computers could offer highly parallel processing, using very little energy in the process. But DNA rapidly dissociates into double helixes. Although a DNA computation might be rapid, finding the desired answer represented by a particular strand in a test tube of thousands of other strands might require considerable lab work. While the most advanced DNA computer is almost unbeatable at noughts and crosses, it still requires human intervention to separate out the correct answer and is not reusable. The DNA approach is probably not well suited to general purpose computing such as word processing.
- Technology and Innovation Futures, at 38-39.