Summer report 2018, part 2

Continues from Summer report 2018, part 1.

On the evolution of the chemlambda project and social context. 

Stories about the molecular computer. The chemlambda project evolved in a highly unexpected way, from a scientific quest done completely in the open to a frantic exploration of a new territory. It became a stories generator machine. I was “in the zone” for almost two years. Instead of the initial goal of understanding the computational content of emergent algebras, the minimalisic chemlambda artificial chemistry concentrated on the molecular computer ideas.

This idea can be stated as: identify molecules and chemical reactions which work as the  interaction nets rewrites style of chemlambda. See the article Chemlambda strings for a simple explanation, as well as a recent presentation of the newest (available) version of chemlambda: v3. (It is conservative in the numbers of nodes and links, the presentation is aimed for a larger audience.)

This idea is new. Indeed, there are many other efforts towards molecular computing. There is the old ALCHEMY (algorithmic chemistry) where lambda calculus serves as inspiration, by taking the application operation as a chemical reaction and the lambda abstration as reactive sites in a molecule. There is the field of DNA and RNA computing where computations are embodied as molecular machines made of DNA or RNA building blocks. There is the pi calculus formalism, as pure in a sense as lambda calculus, based on communication channels names exclusively, which can be applied to chemistry. There is the idea of metabolic networks based on graph grammars.

But there is nowhere the idea to embed interaction networks rewrites into real chemical reactions. So not arbitrary graph grammars, but a highly selected class. Not metabolical networks in general, but molecules designed so individually compute. Not solutions well stirred in a lab. Not static or barely dynamic lego-like molecules. Not boolean gates computing but functional programming like computing.

From the side of CS, this is also new, because instead of concentrating of these rewrites as a tool for understanding lambda calculus reductions, we go far outside of the realm of lambda calculus terms into a pure random calculus with graphs.

But it has to be tried, right? Somebody has to try to identify this chemistry. Somebody has to try to use the functional programming basic concepts from the point of view of the machine, not the programmer.

For the mathematical and computing aspects see this mathoverflow question and answers.

For the general idea of the molecular computer see these html/js slides. They’ve been prepared for a TED talk with a very weird, in my opinion, story.

For the story side and ethical concerns see for example these two short stories posted at telegra.ph : Internet of smells, Home remodeling (a reuse of Proust).

In order to advance there is the need to find either, rather both funding and brain time from a team dedicated to this. Otherwise this project is stalled.

I tried very hard to find the funding and I have not succeeded (other weird stories, maybe some day will tell them).

I was stalled and I had to go back to my initial purpose: emergent algebras. However, being so close to inverse engineering of the  nature’s  OS gives new ideas.

After a year of efforts I understood that it all comes to stochastic luck, which can be groomed and used (somehow). This brings me to the stories of the present, for another post.

 

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