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Minimalist information replicators

Viruses (COVID-19) — from a computational perspective

Figure 1. Information replication strategies of Coronavirus. Coronavirus information tape and code layout shown in left inset. The COVID-19 tape is ~30,000 letters long encoding about 27 functions. Portions of these code segments are evolving faster than other portions driven by selection pressure. These functions can be broadly classified as encoding structural components and nonstructural/accessory components. The main flow sequence of entry and replication is illustrated in labeled sequence (1) The docking apparatus on virus facilitates attachment to host cell and injecting its information tape into cell (2) The host cell’s component construction machinery constructs the virus’s self-replication machine encoded in the virus tape since it cannot distinguish between host code and virus code. (3) The virus’s self-replication machine then creates copies of virus tape as well as code fragments encoding virus components such as docking apparatus. (4) The host cell’s component construction machinery then assembles virus components. (5) Steps 2 and 3 happen inside compartments made up of host cell material but whose assembly is initiated by the virus enabling it to concentrate materials desired for replication as well as shields it from defense mechanisms in the host cell. Step 4 happens separately though the process is still poorly understood. Coronavirus illustration created at CDC. Essentially, the virus enters the host cell with nothing but a linear information sequence and tricks the host cell to bootstrap it to life encoded in its sequence.

Dr. Britt Glaunsinger (virologist) offers an in-depth biological perspective of COVID-19, in her recent video and talks. This post is a computational perspective largely based on the substance of her talks. A computational perspective of an evolving self-replicating linear sequence of data, particularly its




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Ajit Rajasekharan

Ajit Rajasekharan

Machine learning practitioner

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