The bulletin of mathematical biophysics

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 245–260 | Cite as

A relational theory of biological systems

  • Robert Rosen


The relational phenomena exhibited by metabolizing systems may be considered as special cases of those exhibited by a more general class of systems. This class is specified, and some of tis properties developed. An attempt is then made to apply these properties to a theory of metabolism by suitable specialization. A number of biologically significant theorems are obtained which apply directly to the theory of the free-living single cell. Among the results obtained are the following: On the basis of our model, there must always exist a component of the system which cannot be replaced or repaired by the system in the event of its inhibition or destruction. Under certain conditions, a metabolizing system possesses a component the inhibition of which will completely terminate the metabolic activity of the system. Furthermore a number of other diverse phenomena, such as the effects of a deficient environment, encystment phenomena, and even an indication of why a metabolizing system which represents a cell should possess a nucleus, follow in a straightforward fashion from our model.


Block Diagram Directed Path Relational Theory Input Material Environmental Input 
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Copyright information

© University of Chicago 1958

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Rosen
    • 1
  1. 1.Committee on Mathematical BiologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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