Genetics and computer programming seem to have very little in common, at least at first glance. After all, one deals with the minutiae of life down to the molecular level, while the other involves the analysis of digital code that governs how machines operate and interact with the world around them. The reality, however, is that these two disciplines are actually far more similar than you might think; in fact, it’s possible to translate genetic code into programming commands using nothing more than a few algorithms and some ingenuity! Let’s take a look at what this process involves and how it relates to both fields in general.
First, What does a Programmer and a Geneticist have in common?
Programmers and geneticists both study logic. The techniques they use to come up with a solution—whether it’s determining a missing variable or identifying a genetic mutation—are very similar. Not only that, but both disciplines pay attention to details while testing their hypotheses and form testable hypotheses based on those observations. They are also responsible for managing large amounts of data (databases vs. genetic information). Finally, when programmers get stuck on a challenging problem that can’t be solved immediately, their instinct is to sleep on it. In fact, computer science professors often assign difficult problems at 4 a.m. By taking a break from your thought process and letting your subconscious handle things overnight, your brain works harder than ever to find an answer by morning! And as every geneticist knows, sometimes all you need is fresh eyes.
DNA vs Code
Computer code is similar to DNA because they are both written down in As, Gs, Cs, and Ts. Both consist of a set of instructions. For example, when someone wants to build a new website, they need a program that converts their thoughts into code that is understandable by a computer. So what are genes? DNA is an instruction book for life, and it can be used to create many different things, such as bacteria or plants.
Real-world examples, DNA vs Code
1. A child is programmed to look like the parent. The child’s DNA can be likened to a compiled program. When run, it will deliver exactly what it was programmed to. That’s exactly how a computer program works. It will deliver its will into a compatible machine when executed. A remarkable difference is that whilst DNA acts by chemistry, coding is largely electronic.
2. As reported by the Washington Post, the technology revolution of recent decades may have originated in Silicon Valley, but Silicon Valley may not have been as successful without genetic mutations. That’s because evolutionary biologists and computer scientists agree that there are remarkable similarities between how biological organisms evolve through mutation and how programmers create new programs through mutation. In both fields, information is passed down from generation to generation using similar basic principles: a series of instructions that determine what information will be passed down to future generations.