ISU research detects dramatic phase transitions in molecular programmed systems

November 13, 2020

Iowa State University’s Laboratory for Molecular Programming reveals a ”blind spot” in the analysis of very large systems and offers a way to close the gap.  When computer scientists want to confirm that a molecular programmed system behaves as intended, they often turn to simulation, model checking, or approximation.  Now, ISU researchers have shown that a molecular system, modeled as a chemical reaction network, can make dramatic shifts in its behavior at realistic population thresholds that are not detectable with such methods.  To remedy this blind spot, the group successfully used formal theorem provers to verify one such system. The work is described in a paper,  “Population-Induced Phase Transitions and the Verification of Chemical Reaction Networks” published in the Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming, by Dr. James Lathrop, Dr. Jack Lutz, Dr. Robyn Lutz, Ph.D. student Hugh Potter and M.S. student Matthew Riley. 

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