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Researchers show when biology can be efficiently predictable

Krishnendu Chatterjee (l.) and Rasmus Ibsen-Jensen. Photo: IST Austria © Krishnendu Chatterjee (l.) and Rasmus Ibsen-Jensen. Photo: IST Austria

Rasmus Ibsen-Jensen and Krishnendu Chatterjee of IST in Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria worked together with the Austrian biomathematician Martin A. Nowak of Harvard University to investigate several fundamental issues of theoretical biology by means of these clearly defined classes of complexity. More specifically, they looked into the ecological and evolutionary dynamics within structured populations.

By means of these classes of complexity, they can exactly classify these issues in classes of complexity and thus determine with certainty whether or not the problems can be solved using algorithms. It seem as if “the evolutionary processes would mimic aspects of information science”, the researchers reported. 

The question whether an invasive species occupies an ecological niche cannot be solved using a simple formula. However, they did show that two problems are efficiently solvable. One is the molecular clock i.e. a method in which the splitting of two species from a common ancestor can be estimated. The other problem involves the exact fixation probability for a genetic variation to take over in the case of a well-mixed population structure.

Service: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1511366112

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