In silico


In silico

"In silico" is an expression used to mean "performed on computer or via computer simulation." The phrase is coined in analogy the Latin phrases "in vivo" and "in vitro" which are commonly used in biology (see also systems biology) and refer to experiments done in living organisms and outside of living organisms, respectively. Contrary to widespread belief, "in silico" does not mean anything in Latin.

History

The expression "in silico" was first used in public in 1989 in the workshop "Cellular Automata: Theory and Applications" in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Pedro Miramontes, a mathematician from National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) presented the report "DNA and RNA Physicochemical Constraints, Cellular Automata and Molecular Evolution". In his talk, Miramontes used the term "in silico" to characterize biological experiments carried out entirely in a computer. The work was later presented by Miramontes as his PhD dissertation.Miramontes P. Un modelo de autómata celular para la evolución de los ácidos nucleicos [A cellular automaton model for the evolution of nucleic acids] . Tesis de doctorado en matemáticas. UNAM. 1992.]

"In silico" has been used in white papers written to support the creation of bacterial genome programs by the Commission of the European Community. The first referenced paper where "in silico" appears was written by a French team in 1991.Danchin A, Medigue C, Gascuel O, Soldano H, Henaut A. From data banks to data bases. Res Microbiol. 1991 Sep-Oct;142(7-8):913-6. PMID 1784830.] The first referenced book chapter where "in silico" appears was written by Hans B. Sieburg in 1990 and presented during a Summer School on Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute.Sieburg, H.B. (1990). Physiological Studies "in silico". Studies in the Sciences of Complexity 12, 321-342.]

"In silico" versus "in silicio"

"In silico" was briefly challenged by "in silicio"," which is correct Latin for "in silicon" (the Latin term for silicon, "silicium", was created at the beginning of the 19th century by Berzelius).citequote On the other hand, a phrase "in silice" means "in flint" in Latin. "In silico" was perceived as catchier, possibly through similarity to the word "silicate."citequote "In silico" is now almost universal; it even occurs in a journal title ("In Silico" Biology: http://www.bioinfo.de/isb/).

The phrase "in silico" originally applied only to computer simulations that modeled natural or laboratory processes (in all the natural sciences), and did not refer to calculations done by computer generically.

ee also

*List of Latin phrases
*"ex vivo"
*"in situ"
*"in utero"
*"in vitro"
*"in vivo"
* "In silico" molecular design programs

References

External links

* [http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-ins1.htm World Wide Words: "In silico"]
* [http://www.insilico.com.au Web Design and Development (Australia): "In silico"]


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