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The Lost Art of Mathematical Modelling

by   Linnéa Gyllingberg, et al.

We provide a critique of mathematical biology in light of rapid developments in modern machine learning. We argue that out of the three modelling activities – (1) formulating models; (2) analysing models; and (3) fitting or comparing models to data – inherent to mathematical biology, researchers currently focus too much on activity (2) at the cost of (1). This trend, we propose, can be reversed by realising that any given biological phenomena can be modelled in an infinite number of different ways, through the adoption of an open/pluralistic approach. We explain the open approach using fish locomotion as a case study and illustrate some of the pitfalls – universalism, creating models of models, etc. – that hinder mathematical biology. We then ask how we might rediscover a lost art: that of creative mathematical modelling. This article is dedicated to the memory of Edmund Crampin.


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