Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Computer programs as theories in biology

Authors
Journal
Journal of Theoretical Biology
0022-5193
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
108
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-5193(84)80079-x
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Communication
  • Computer Science

Abstract

Complex theories in biology may be developed, refined, and tested by the use of computer programmed simulations. The computer is recognized as a powerful tool for theory development; it is, in fact, the only means of thoroughly testing and examining a large and intricate theory. A program as a text is a statement of a theory and when run on the computer it is model of that theory. As the program's behavior is then the major argument for the credibility of a large and complex theory, the program itself is the only irrefutable statement of the theory. Bur programs written in the currently available programming languages tend to be incomprehensible. We argue that the program should be the definitive statement of the theory. In addition, the program plus a series of abstractions is a vehicle for effective communication of complex theories in biology. Several techniques of computer science are borrowed, for the purpose of developing a methodology for abstraction and a language for representing abstractions. The arguments are fully illustrated with a recently published biological theory.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.