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Theory in Biosciences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1007/s12064-008-0042-z
  • Editorial
  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Physics


This special issue of Theory in Biosciences is devoted to contributions from ECCS07, the annual European Conference on Complex Systems that in 2007 took place in Dresden. As the name indicates, this conference is interdisciplinary in character and brings together scientists from a wide range of fields. Among those, the biological sciences play an important role, from two perspectives in fact: On one hand, many experimental findings in the entire range of biological sciences, from the molecular to the behavorial, neurobiological or even to the population and biosystems levels, and actually many simulation results as well, pose the challenge of developing formal models that can account for them. Also, biology is in need of systematic theoretical concepts. Therefore, many scientists from the theoretical fields, including mathematics, physics, and computer science are drawn to biological problems and test their range of methods and concepts on biological questions. This range is wide, and so then is the one of the biological problems addressed. One can model and conceptualize general mechanisms of evolution, or one can treat concrete biophysical problems or analyze large sets of biological data. Nevertheless, certain aspects are characteristic of biological structures in particular and complex systems in general. They include the relation between a system and its constituents, elements or parts. Another instance is the dynamical interaction of different spatial and temporal scales. Also, nonlinear effects like sudden bifurcations or phase transitions when some crucial parameter reaches a critical threshold play an important role. Moreover, for the investigation of a complex system, the identification of those, sometimes relatively few, variables that determine the important qualitative features of the system is fundamental. In other words, in order not to get lost in an overwhelming amount of complicated details, one needs to understand how the system as a whole constrains the local degrees of freedom in the dyn

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