 # What is Biomath ? Biomathematics is a discipline that combines the use of both Biology and Mathematics. Research in Biology is usually thought to be based on experimentation with materials, while in Mathematical Biology experimentation is of a theoretical nature. Biomathematicians use organizational properties and concepts in an attempt to discover new answers to the questions posed by biologists about the nature and properties of living organisms. In other words, Mathematical Biology involves the application of physical principles to biological systems (2). This should not imply that Biomathematics is devoid of data. The entire field of Biometry (also known as Biological Statistics or Biostatistics), for example, is based on the statistical analysis of numerical data produced by the process of studying biological systems (3).

A major advantage of applying mathematics to biological systems is the ability to construct mathematical models. Such models are mathematical systems that attempt to represent the complex interactions of biological systems in a way simple enough for their consequences to be understood and explored (1,2). Traditionally models that allowed biologists to see a problem in a simplified way have been physical systems constructed to exibit simple biological properties which could be analyzed (2). This kind of model, however, is restricted by technology as well as technological ingenuity. Mathematical models have no such restriction and can be used to construct any sort of model system (2). Another advantage of the mathematical treatment of biological problem is that it can bring to the surface answers that would have been otherwise overlooked (1).

Mathematical Biology is as diverse as Biology itself. In fact, mathematics can be applied to most areas of Biology. Mathematical Genetics which is the study of the dynamics of populations in time, is one of the earliest areas of biology that involved a great deal of mathematics (2). Other examples include the study of neural nets, enzyme/substrate interactions, membrane properties and structure and many more (1,2).

# References

1. Howland, John L. and Grobe, Charles A. Jr. A Mathematical Approach to Biology. Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and Company, 1972.
2. Robert Rosen ed. Foundations of Mathematical Biology Vol. I: Subcellular Systems. New York: Academic Press, 1972.
3. Sokal, Robert R. and Rohlf, F. James. Biometry: The Principles and Practice of Statistics in Biological Research. 2nd. ed. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1981.

Another book of interest is:

• T.A. Burton ed. Mathematical Biology: A Conference on Theoretical Aspects of Molecular Science. New York: Pergamon Press, 1981.
It contains papers in diverse areas of mathematical biology. Each paper provides an introduction to the subject under study as well as references to related investigations.

prepared by Marike Hartmann and Brian Golding, August 1996