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Nicholaos Jones
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conference paper description
I consider three explanatory strategies from recent systems biology that are driven by mathematics as much as mechanistic detail. Analysis of differential equations drives the first strategy; topological analysis of network motifs drives the second; mathematical theorems from control engineering drive the third. I also distinguish three abstraction types: aggregations, which simplify by condensing information; generalizations, which simplify by generalizing information; and structurations, which simplify by contextualizing information. Using a common explanandum as reference point—namely, the robust perfect adaptation of chemotaxis in Escherichia coli—I argue that each strategy invokes a different combination of abstraction types and that each targets its abstractions to different mechanistic details.

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