Synthetic Modeling and the Functional Role of Noise

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Knuuttila, Tarja; Loettgers, Andrea
conference paper description
In synthetic biology the use of engineering metaphors to describe biological organisms and their behavior has become a common practice. The concept of noise provides one of the most compelling examples of such transfer. But this notion is also confusing: While in engineering noise is a destructive force perturbing artificial systems, in synthetic biology it has acquired an additional functional meaning. It has been found out that noise is an important factor in driving biological processes such as gene regulation, development, and evolution. How did noise acquire this dual meaning in the field of synthetic biology? In this paper we study the emergence of the functional meaning of noise in relation to synthetic modeling. We will pay particular attention to the interdisciplinary aspects of this process highlighting the way borrowed concepts, analogical reasoning and the use of cross-disciplinary computational templates were entwined in it.