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BioBuilder by Kathryn M Hart, Karen Ingram, Rachel Bernstein, Natalie Kuldell PhD.

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Chapter 2. Fundamentals of Biodesign

In this chapter, we explore the process of biodesign: designing biological systems with predictable behavior. We will consider an analogy to illustrate the usefulness of abstraction in design. Then, we’ll walk our way through the design abstraction to specify a system for detecting arsenic in water. Along the way, there will be prompts so that you can apply these illustrations and examples to the design of a living technology of your choosing.

Illustrating a Top-Down Design Approach

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Biodesign might be new to you, so we’ll begin with a more familiar scenario.

Imagine that you want to go on a vacation. First you need to decide what type of vacation. Do you want a tropical getaway, a backpacking trip, an urban adventure? To decide, you might consider the benefits of each of your options. For example, a tropical getaway might be relaxing, but it’s also quite expensive. For now, let’s say you’re feeling more interested in nature than cities, so you decide that the backpacking trip is the best option.

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Having decided on the “big picture,” a backpacking trip, next you need to begin planning your trip, starting with still more “big” questions: do you want to hike in the mountains or the desert? Do you want to go for two nights or five weeks? For ...

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