The bulletin of mathematical biophysics

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 355–376

Dimensional analysis in mathematical biology I. General discussion


  • Walter R. Stahl
    • Biomathematics ProgramOregon State University

DOI: 10.1007/BF02476492

Cite this article as:
Stahl, W.R. Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics (1961) 23: 355. doi:10.1007/BF02476492


Dimensional analysis is discussed from the viewpoint of its basic group properties and shown to be an algebraic Abelian group that is useful for analysis of physical measurements. The application of the method to various types of equations and the formulation of previously unclassified dimensions are discussed. Functional dimensional analysis is applied to the problems of cell size and biomass proliferation; future applications are also noted. A number of dimensionless terms have been formulated for cellular physiochemical phenomena. They apparently represent the first systematic study of biological dimensionless numbers recorded in the literature. A dimensionless proliferation law is suggested. A brief analysis of the physical dimensionality associated with information measures is carried out. Entropy and “information” are shown to be completely different in their dimensional meaning; other informational measures of possible interest in biology are proposed. The dimensional coding and computor analysis of biomathematical equations is suggested.

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© University of Chicago 1961