Modeling complexity in biology

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Abstract

Biological systems, unlike physical or chemical systems, are characterized by the very inhomogeneous distribution of their components. The immune system, in particular, is notable for self-organizing its structure. Classically, the dynamics of natural systems have been described using differential equations. But, differential equation models fail to account for the emergence of large-scale inhomogeneities and for the influence of inhomogeneity on the overall dynamics of biological systems. Here, we show that a microscopic simulation methodology enables us to model the emergence of large-scale objects and to extend the scope of mathematical modeling in biology. We take a simple example from immunology and illustrate that the methods of classical differential equations and microscopic simulation generate contradictory results. Microscopic simulations generate a more faithful approximation of the reality of the immune system. © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.

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Louzoun, Y., Solomon, S., Atlan, H., & Cohen, I. R. (2001). Modeling complexity in biology. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications, 297(1–2), 242–252. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-4371(01)00201-1

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