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mathematical biology

Abstractions blog

Ancient Turing Pattern Builds Feathers, Hair — and Now, Shark Skin

January 2, 2019

A primordial developmental toolkit shared by all vertebrates, and described by a theory of the mathematician Alan Turing, sets the growth pattern for all types of skin structures.

Art for "Biology and Computer Science Explore Algorithmic Evolution"
mathematical biology

Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution’s Speed

November 29, 2018

Some researchers are using a complexity framework thought to be purely theoretical to understand evolutionary dynamics in biological and computational systems.

Illustration for "Mathematics Shows How to Ensure Evolution"
mathematical biology

Mathematics Shows How to Ensure Evolution

June 26, 2018

New results emerging from graph theory prove that the way a population is organized can guarantee the eventual triumph of natural selection — or permanently thwart it.

Photo of a grasshopper poised to jump.
biophysics

Too Small for Big Muscles, Tiny Animals Use Springs

June 13, 2018

Elastic springs help tiny animals stay fast and strong. New work is finding what size critters must be to benefit from the springs.

520px illustration for cell incubation time.
mathematical biology

Why Don’t Patients Get Sick in Sync? Modelers Find Statistical Clues.

March 1, 2018

The long, variable times that some diseases incubate after infection defies simple explanation. An idealized model of tumor growth offers a statistical solution.

520px photo of Barbara Engelhardt
Q&A

A Statistical Search for Genomic Truths

February 27, 2018

The computer scientist Barbara Engelhardt develops machine-learning models and methods to scour human genomes for the elusive causes and mechanisms of disease.

Jessica Flack
Q&A

How Nature Solves Problems Through Computation

July 6, 2017

The evolutionary biologist Jessica Flack seeks the computational rules that groups of organisms use to solve problems.

ecology

A Timely Fix for a Grand Theory of Nature

March 11, 2016

A disarmingly simple model of ecology does everything well — except predict how rapidly nature can change. Can it become more realistic while still avoiding all of biology’s messy complexities?

Q&A

Searching for the Algorithms Underlying Life

January 28, 2016

The biological world is computational at its core, argues computer scientist Leslie Valiant.