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ACCMS seminar “Mathematical Biology Without Equations: Uncovering Invisible Causal Networks”

Post date:2017/10/16

Academic Center for Computing and Media Studies (ACCMS) holds a seminar once in a month. We inviting active researchers from a variety of areas, and ask them to give talks about their research activity or issues in performing research, hoping to provide an opportunity for fruitful discussion among participants.
On an ACCMS seminar at 9 Nov. 2017, we invite Prof. George Sugihara at UC San Diego. We hope to have a lot of participants.

Date 2017/11/09 (Thursday)16:30~18:00
Place North Building of ACCMS 4th floor, Room 404
Fee Free
Application Not necessary
Host Academic Center for Computing and Media Studies, Kyoto University
Inquiry Hiroaki Natsukawa, Academic Center for Computing and Media Studies, Kyoto University
Phone 075-753-7473
E-mail : natsukawa * viz.media.kyoto-u.ac.jp (Please replace “*” with “@”.)
Program 16:3018:00
Speaker : George Sugihara (UC San Diego, Physical Oceanography Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography・Professor)

Title : Mathematical Biology Without Equations: Uncovering Invisible Causal Networks

Abstract :Since before the time of Aristotle and the natural philosophers, reductionism has played a foundational role in western scientific thought. The premise of reductionism is that systems can be broken down into constituent pieces and studied independently, then reassembled to understand the behavior of the system as a whole. It embodies the classical linear perspective. This approach has been successful in developing basic physical laws and especially in engineering where linear analysis dominates and systems are purposefully designed that way. However, reductionism is not universally applicable for natural complex systems found in biology and elsewhere where behavior is driven, not by a few factors acting independently, but by complex interactions between many components acting together in time –nonlinear dynamic systems.
Nonlinearity in living systems means that its parts are interdependent –variables do not act in a mutually independent manner; rather they interact, and as a consequence associations (correlations) between them will change as the overall system context (state) changes. This problem is highlighted when extrapolating the results of single-factor experiments to nature, and surely contributes to the frustrating disconnect between experimental findings and clinical outcomes in drug trials. Indeed, while everyone knows Berkeley’s 1710 dictum “correlation does not imply causation” few realize that for nonlinear systems the converse “causation does not imply correlation” is also true. This conundrum runs counter to deeply ingrained heuristic thinking that is at the basis of modern science. Biological systems (esp. ecosystems) are particularly perverse on this issue by exhibiting mirage correlations that can continually cause us to rethink relationships we thought we understood.
Here we examine a minimalist paradigm, empirical dynamics, for studying non-linear systems and a method that can distinguish causality from correlation. It is a data-driven approach that uses time series information to study a system holistically by reconstructing its attractor – a geometric object that embodies the rules of a full set of equations for the system. The ideas are intuitive and will be illustrated with examples from ecology, epidemiology and genetics.  (The talk will be given in English.)
Remarks After the seminar, a social gathering will be held. If you wish to participate, please contact the above e-mail.
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