Pharma meets the Internet of Things

Pharma meets the Internet of Things, some commented references for this future trend. Use them to understand

[0] After the IoT comes Gaia

There are two realms of computation, which should and will become one: the IT technology and biochemistry.

General stuff

The notion of computation is now well known, we speak about what is computable and about various models of computation (i.e. how we compute) which always turned out to be equivalent in the sense that they give the same class of computable things (that’s the content of the Church-Turing thesis).

It is interesting though how we compute, not only what is computable.

In IT perhaps the biggest (and socially relevant) problem is decentralized asynchronous computing. Until now there is no really working solution of a model of computation which is:
– local in space (decentralized)
– local in time (asynchronous)
– with no pre-imposed hierarchy or external authority which forces coherence

In biochemistry, people know that we, anything living, are molecular assemblies which work:
– local in space (all chemical interactions are local)
– local in time (there is no external clock which synchronizes the reactions)
– random (everything happens without any external control)

Useful links for an aerial view on molecular computing, seen as the biochemistry side of computation:


Some history and details provided. Quote from the end of the section “Biochemistry-based information technology”

“Other experiments have shown that basic computations may be executed using a number of different building blocks (for example, simple molecular “machines” that use a combination of DNA and protein-based enzymes). By harnessing the power of molecules, new forms of information-processing technology are possible that are evolvable, self-replicating, self-repairing, and responsive. The possible applications of this emerging technology will have an impact on many areas, including intelligent medical diagnostics and drug delivery, tissue engineering, energy, and the environment.”


A detailed historical view (written in 2000) of the efforts towards “molecular electronics”. Mind that’s not the same subject as [1], because the effort here is to use biochemistry to mimic silicon computers. While [1] also contains such efforts (building logical gates with DNA, etc), DNA computing does propose also a more general view: building structure from structure as nature does.


Two easy to read articles about real applications of molecular computing:
– “Microscopic machine mimics the ribosome, forms molecular assembly line”
– “Biological computer can decrypt images stored in DNA”


Article about Craig Venter from 2016, found by looking for “Craig Venter Illumina”. Other informative searches would be “Digital biological converter” or anything “Craig Venter”


Interesting talk by an interesting researcher Lee Cronin

[6] The Molecular Programming Project

Worth to be browsed in detail for seeing the various trends and results

Sitting in the middle, between biochemistry and IT:

[1] Algorithmic Chemistry (Alchemy) of Fontana and Buss

Walter Fontana today:

[2] The Chemical Abstract Machine by Berry and Boudol

[3] Molecular Computers (by me, part of an Open Science project, see also my homepage and the chemlambda github page )

On the IT side there’s a beautiful research field, starting of course with lambda calculus by Church. Later on this evolved in the direction of rewriting systems, then graph rewriting systems. I can’t even start to write all that’s done in this direction, other than:

[1] Y. Lafont, Interaction Combinators

but see as well the Alchemy, which uses lambda calculus!

However, it would be misleading to reduce everything to lambda calculus. I came to the conclusion that lambda calculus or Turing machines are only two among the vast possibilities, and not very important. My experience with chemlambda shows that the most relevant mechanism turns around the triple of nodes FI, FO, FOE and their rewrites. Lambda calculus is obtained by the addition of a pair of A (application) and L (lambda) nodes, along with standard compatible moves. One might use as well nodes related to a  Turing Machine instead, as explained in

Everything works just the same. The center, what makes things work, is not related to Logic or Computation as they are usually considered. More later.


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