The seemingly simple problem of sorting a stack of differently sized pancakes has become a staple of theoretical computer science and led to insights into the evolution of species. First proposed many years ago in The American Mathematical Monthly, the problem attracted the attention of noted mathematicians and computer scientists. It now plays an important role in the realm of molecular biology for making sense of DNA rearrangements.
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Genome Rearrangements in Man and Mouse (GRIMM), Glenn Tesler, University of California, San Diego.