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Concept# Mathematical and theoretical biology

Summary

Mathematical and theoretical biology, or biomathematics, is a branch of biology which employs theoretical analysis, mathematical models and abstractions of the living organisms to investigate the principles that govern the structure, development and behavior of the systems, as opposed to experimental biology which deals with the conduction of experiments to prove and validate the scientific theories. The field is sometimes called mathematical biology or biomathematics to stress the mathematical side, or theoretical biology to stress the biological side. Theoretical biology focuses more on the development of theoretical principles for biology while mathematical biology focuses on the use of mathematical tools to study biological systems, even though the two terms are sometimes interchanged.
Mathematical biology aims at the mathematical representation and modeling of biological processes, using techniques and tools of applied mathematics. It can be useful in both theoretical and practical research. Describing systems in a quantitative manner means their behavior can be better simulated, and hence properties can be predicted that might not be evident to the experimenter. This requires precise mathematical models.
Because of the complexity of the living systems, theoretical biology employs several fields of mathematics, and has contributed to the development of new techniques.
Mathematics has been used in biology as early as the 13th century, when Fibonacci used the famous Fibonacci series to describe a growing population of rabbits. In the 18th century, Daniel Bernoulli applied mathematics to describe the effect of smallpox on the human population. Thomas Malthus' 1789 essay on the growth of the human population was based on the concept of exponential growth. Pierre François Verhulst formulated the logistic growth model in 1836.

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