Not Just a Theory—The Utility of Mathematical Models in Evolutionary Biology


Progress in science often begins with verbal hypotheses meant to explain why certain biological phenomena exist. An important purpose of mathematical models in evolutionary research, as in many other fields, is to act as “proof-of-concept” tests of the logic in verbal explanations, paralleling the way in which empirical data are used to test hypotheses. Because not all subfields of biology use mathematics for this purpose, misunderstandings of the function of proof-of-concept modeling are common. In the hope of facilitating communication, we discuss the role of proof-of-concept modeling in evolutionary biology.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002017

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@inproceedings{Servedio2014NotJA, title={Not Just a Theory—The Utility of Mathematical Models in Evolutionary Biology}, author={Maria R. Servedio and Yaniv Brandvain and Sumit Dhole and Courtney L. Fitzpatrick and Emma Elizabeth Goldberg and Caitlin A. Stern and Jeremy Van Cleve and Douhan Justin Yeh}, booktitle={PLoS biology}, year={2014} }