Uses and Abuses of Mathematics in Biology

  title={Uses and Abuses of Mathematics in Biology},
  author={Robert M. May},
  pages={790 - 793}
  • R. May
  • Published 2004
  • Biology, Mathematics, Physics, Medicine
  • Science
In the physical sciences, mathematical theory and experimental investigation have always marched together. Mathematics has been less intrusive in the life sciences, possibly because they have until recently been largely descriptive, lacking the invariance principles and fundamental natural constants of physics. Increasingly in recent decades, however, mathematics has become pervasive in biology, taking many different forms: statistics in experimental design; pattern seeking in bioinformatics… Expand
Biology and mathematics
Some of the most significant contributions of mathematics to biology, ranging from population genetics, to developmental biology, and to networks of species interactions, are summarized. Expand
The "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" in biology and the fallacy from complexity
In today’s scientific practice, there is evidence for the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" in biology, differing from traditional mathematical biology, thus giving new support to a notion that still cannot be taken for granted. Expand
Special issue on modeling and computational methods in genomic sciences
A deep perspective description of the future of genomic research, among others: identifying the structural and functional components encoded in the human genome, elucidating the organization of the genetic networks and protein pathways, and developing robust strategies for identifying the genetic contribution to disease and drug response. Expand
On the interplay between mathematics and biology: hallmarks toward a new systems biology.
A critical analysis of the existing literature on mathematical tools developed toward systems biology approaches develops a new approach whose main features can be briefly summarized as derivation of mathematical structures suitable to capture the complexity of biological, hence living, systems. Expand
A Life Cycle for Modeling Biology at Different Scales
Modeling has become a popular tool for inquiry and discovery across biological disciplines. Models allow biologists to probe complex questions and to guide experimentation. Modeling literacy amongExpand
The Physics behind Systems Biology
The ‘Physics core’ of Systems Biology is reviewed, how some success stories in Systems Biology can be traced back to concepts developed in Physics are shown, and how the field can further benefit from its Theoretical Physics foundation. Expand
Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) in practice.
It is argued that the use of ABC should incorporate all aspects of Bayesian data analysis: formulation, fitting, and improvement of a model if these principles are carefully applied. Expand
The Undeniable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Special Sciences
  • M. Colyvan
  • Mathematics, Computer Science
  • New Directions in the Philosophy of Science
  • 2014
It is argued that idealising away from complicating causal details often gives a clearer view of whatreally matters, and often what really matters is not the push and shove of base-level causal processes, but higher-level predictions and (non-causal) explanations. Expand
Methods and tools of mathematical kinetic theory towards modelling complex biological systems
Methods of mathematical kinetic theory have been recently developed to describe the collective behavior of large populations of interacting individuals such that their microscopic state is identified not only by a mechanical variable, but also by a biological state related to their organized, somehow intelligent, behavior. Expand
On the mathematical theory of living systems II: The interplay between mathematics and system biology
The investigation begins with an analysis of complexity in biological systems, continues with reviewing a general methodology to reduce complexity and furnishes the mathematical tools to describe the time evolution of such systems by capturing all their features. Expand


It Must Be Beautiful: Great Equations of Modern Science
The exact sciences have an immense weight and influence in our culture. At the heart of their effectiveness lies the mathematical equation. The difficult form of the great equations - particularlyExpand
Chaos, Making a New Science
Virus dynamics: Mathematical principles of immunology and virology
The basic model of virus dynamics, which describes the dynamics of resistance in different types of infected cells and analysis of multiple epitope dynamics shows clear trends in immune responses and drug resistance. Expand
Simple lessons from complexity
The complexity of the world is contrasted with the simplicity of the basic laws of physics. In recent years, considerable study has been devoted to systems that exhibit complex outcomes. ThisExpand
A model of the spread of HIV infection and the demographic impact of AIDS.
The objective of the computer simulation model described here is to project, for periods up to one or more decades, the annual incidence and prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS in a population withExpand
Modelling vaccination strategies against foot-and-mouth disease
A reactive strategy, ‘predictive’ vaccination, is explored, which can reduce markedly the long tail that characterizes many FMD epidemics and have broader implications for the control of human and livestock infectious diseases in heterogeneous spatial landscapes. Expand