BLISS Seminar: Robust Storage of Information in DNA Molecules

Seminar | March 12 | 3-4 p.m. | 540 Cory Hall

 Reinhard Heckel, Rice University

 Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS)

Due to its longevity and enormous information density, DNA is an attractive medium for archival storage of digital information. In this talk, we discuss algorithmic and design aspects of DNA data storage systems. A key distinctive aspect of DNA data storage systems is that due to technological constraints, (1) data is written onto many short DNA molecules that are stored in an unordered way and (2) the data is read by sampling from this DNA pool. Imperfections in DNA synthesis, sequencing, and decay of DNA induces errors in the reads obtained from the DNA pool. Error correcting codes can correct those errors and allow to perfectly recover the digital information. We discuss the design of such codes for the particular requirements imposed by DNA data storage systems. Moreover, we study the basic relationships and tradeoffs between key design parameters and performance goals such as storage density and reading/writing costs, and the fundamental limits of DNA storage systems. Finally, we discuss our experience with designing and testing one of the first robust DNA data storage systems, and how the qualitative and quantitative understanding of the errors obtained from our experiments and the experiments from other groups can inform the design of future DNA data storage systems.