As a consequence of the increasing power and decreasing cost of digital computers, dysmorphologists have begun to explore a wide variety of computerised applications in clinical genetics. Of considerable interest are developments in the areas of syndrome databases, expert systems, literature searches, image processing, and pattern recognition. Each of these areas is reviewed from the perspective of the underlying computer principles, existing applications, and the potential for future developments. Particular emphasis is placed on the analysis of the tasks performed by the dysmorphologist and the design of appropriate tools to facilitate these tasks. In this context the computer and associated software are considered paradigmatically as tools for the dysmorphologist and should be designed accordingly. Continuing improvements in the ability of computers to manipulate vast amounts of data rapidly makes the development of increasingly powerful tools for the dysmorphologist highly probable.
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