Coding sequences : a history of sequence comparison algorithms as a scientific instrument
Date of Issue2011
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Sequence comparison algorithms are sophisticated pieces of software that compare and match identical or similar regions of DNA, RNA, or protein sequence. This paper examines the origins and development of these algorithms from the 1960s to the 1990s. By treating this software as a kind of scientific instrument used to examine sets of biological objects, the paper shows how algorithms have been used as different sorts of tools and appropriated for different sorts of uses according to the disciplinary context in which they were deployed. These particular uses have made sequences themselves into different kinds of objects.
Perspectives on science
© 2011 by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This paper was published in Perspectives on Science and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The paper can be found at the following official URL: [http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/posc/summary/v019/19.3.stevens.html]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.