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A primer in macromolecular linguistics†
Version of Record online: 3 OCT 2012
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Special Issue: PDB40: The Protein Data Bank Celebrates its 40th Birthday
Volume 99, Issue 3, pages 203–217, March 2013
How to Cite
Searls, D. B. (2013), A primer in macromolecular linguistics. Biopolymers, 99: 203–217. doi: 10.1002/bip.22101
- Issue online: 21 DEC 2012
- Version of Record online: 3 OCT 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 7 JUN 2012 07:42AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 MAY 2012
- Manuscript Received: 26 APR 2012
- formal language theory;
- computational linguistics;
Polymeric macromolecules, when viewed abstractly as strings of symbols, can be treated in terms of formal language theory, providing a mathematical foundation for characterizing such strings both as collections and in terms of their individual structures. In addition this approach offers a framework for analysis of macromolecules by tools and conventions widely used in computational linguistics. This article introduces the ways that linguistics can be and has been applied to molecular biology, covering the relevant formal language theory at a relatively nontechnical level. Analogies between macromolecules and human natural language are used to provide intuitive insights into the relevance of grammars, parsing, and analysis of language complexity to biology. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 99: 203–217, 2013.