# Discrete math - links to biology?

• S.N.
In summary, the conversation discusses the integration of discrete mathematics and biology in research. Some areas mentioned include probability, chaos theory, signal theory, and statistical mechanics, which can be used to explain biological and chemical systems. Several examples of this integration are provided, such as evolutionary game theory, sequence alignment, and population genetics. Bioinformatics is also mentioned as an interesting field to explore.
S.N.
Discrete math -- links to biology?

Hey,

I'm in a math and biology program in college and I've recently become more and more into the discrete side of math. I was wondering if anybody knew of any areas of research that integrate discrete mathematics and biology, as there doesn't seem to be much when I do a few searches. Pretty general question, I know, but is anyone aware of any offhand examples?

Concrete or Discrete Math can seem a tad dry and academic but it does lead to useful results in Biology.

Probability, and the design of experiments has always been an important area.
Chaos theory and cellular automata.
Signal theory in nervous transmission.
Statistical mechanics, which is about how the random actions of lots of small things can bring about an aggregate effect or law, can be invoked to explain the workings and behaviour of biological and chemical systems.

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You may want to take a look at these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_game_theory"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequence_alignment"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_phylogenetics"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levenshtein_distance"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmental_models_in_epidemiology"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_genetics"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioinformatics"

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Thanks guys, interesting stuff!

I can definitely say that there are many areas of research where discrete mathematics and biology intersect. One of the most prominent examples is in the field of bioinformatics, which uses computational methods and discrete math to analyze and interpret large biological data sets. This includes tasks such as sequence alignment, phylogenetic analysis, and protein structure prediction.

Another area where discrete math is applied in biology is in population genetics, where mathematical models are used to study the genetic variation and evolution of populations. This involves concepts such as discrete probability, graph theory, and combinatorics.

Additionally, discrete math is also used in ecological modeling, where mathematical models are used to study the interactions between species in an ecosystem. This includes concepts such as network theory, game theory, and dynamical systems.

Overall, the application of discrete mathematics in biology is vast and continues to grow as technology advances and new research questions arise. I would recommend looking into specific fields such as bioinformatics, population genetics, and ecological modeling for more specific examples and opportunities for research.

## 1. What is the connection between discrete math and biology?

Discrete math is a branch of mathematics that deals with discrete structures, meaning objects that can only take on certain values. It is used in biology to model and analyze biological systems, such as genetic networks, ecological networks, and disease spread.

## 2. How is graph theory applied in biology?

Graph theory is a subfield of discrete math that deals with the study of graphs, which are mathematical structures used to model relationships between objects. In biology, graph theory is used to analyze and visualize complex networks, such as protein interactions, metabolic pathways, and food webs.

## 3. Can discrete math be used in genetics?

Yes, discrete math is commonly used in genetics to model and analyze genetic traits, inheritance patterns, and gene interactions. It is also used in population genetics to study the distribution of gene frequencies in a population.

## 4. What are some practical applications of discrete math in biology?

Besides genetics and graph theory, discrete math has many other applications in biology. It is used in bioinformatics to analyze DNA and protein sequences, in epidemiology to study disease spread, and in ecology to model population dynamics and species interactions.

## 5. Do you need a strong background in math to understand discrete math in biology?

While a strong background in math can certainly be helpful, it is not necessary to understand discrete math in biology. Many concepts can be understood without extensive mathematical knowledge, and there are various tools and software available to assist with the calculations and analyses.

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