Needleman–Wunsch algorithm – Wikipedia

November 11, 2016

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Historical notes and algorithm development[edit]

The original purpose of the algorithm described by Needleman and Wunsch was to find similarities in the amino acid sequences of two proteins.[1]

Needleman and Wunsch describe their algorithm explicitly for the case when the alignment is penalized solely by the matches and mismatches, and gaps have no penalty (d=0). The original publication from 1970 suggests the recursion

A better dynamic programming algorithm with quadratic running time for the same problem (no gap penalty) was first introduced[3] by David Sankoff in 1972. Similar quadratic-time algorithms were discovered independently by T. K. Vintsyuk[4] in 1968 for speech processing ("time warping"), and by Robert A. Wagner and Michael J. Fischer[5] in 1974 for string matching.