Network Biology: Understanding Emergent Complexity in Living Systems
Sitabhra Sinha The Institute of Mathematical Sciences

The complete mapping of human and other genomes has indicated that the remarkable complexity of living organisms is expressed by less than 100,000 genes. The complexity arises not so much from the relatively few components (in this case, genes), as the large set of mutual interactions that they are capable of. In a similar fashion, the 302 neurons of the C. Elegans worm enables it to survive in the wild much more successfully than complicated, state-of-the-art robots. It is not the number of neurons that is the crucial factor, but their interactions and the resulting repertoire of dynamical responses that underlie the survival success of living organisms. The focus of research in biology is therefore gradually shifting to understanding how interactions between components, be they genes, proteins, cells or organisms, adds a qualitatively new layer of complexity to the biological world. The role of network biology is to elucidate the processes by which complex behavior can arise in a system comprising of mutually interacting components. As networks appear at all scales in biology, from the intracellular to the ecological, one of the central questions is whether the same general principles of network function can apply to very different spatial and temporal scales in biology. In this talk, we look at the issue of how dynamical stability may arise in complex biological networks, and how this constrains the possible types of network structure, relating them to their corresponding function. .

Review article:

Exploring complex networks, Steven H. Strogatz, Nature., Vol. 410, 8 March 2001.

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