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The Best Introductory Text in Systems Biology
on June 9, 2013
As someone who has been working in systems biology since before the term was even coined, I can be pretty critical of any nascent texts on the subject, now that academic biology departments are starting to give the field its proper due. But part of the problem in the field, all the way back to May and Morowitz, is that the obscure and esoteric mathematics of dynamical systems theory has been inaccessable to most classical biologists, let alone to the public. Fields such as bioinformatics have made clear the importance of mathematics and computational science to biology, but the world of modeling and simulation has remained on the edges of biology only until recently.
Most texts on systems biology have tended to focus on the mathematics without much more. Here is a book that tries something rather bold, to address the whole expanse of systems biology, with a minimalist mathematical approach, and a more a practical perspective on real world application. If you are a biologist looking for a first look at systems biology that does not assume you dream in Lyapunov exponents, this is the book for you. It is well illustrated with an almost historical context providing perspective on the field and just enough math to pique your interest without scaring you away. If you fancy yourself a Ramanujan, there are a number of great books that dive into the mathematical abyss with abandon, such as Armin Fuchs' text. But if you are new to the application of dynamical systems theory to biology and to mathematical and computational modeling of the same, then this is your "start here" users manual road map for the more partiuclar detail you will need once you are hooked. This is the perfect book for an introductory upper division undergraduate or preliminary graduate course in systems biology.