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Mathematical models for cellular systems the von Foerster equation. Part I

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P. B. M. Walker (1954) and H. C. Longuet-Higgins (quoted by Walker), as well as O. Scherbaum and G. Rasch (1957), made the first attempts towards a mathematical study of the age distribution in a cellular population. It was H. Von Foerster (1959), however, who derived the complete differential equation for the age density function,n(t, a). His equation is obtained from an analysis of the infinitesimal changes occurring during a time elementdt in a group of cells with ages betweena anda+da. The behavior of the population is determined by a quantity λ which we call the loss function. In this paper a rigorous discussion of the Von Foerster equation is presented, and a solution is given for the special case when λ depends, ont (time) anda (age) but not on other variables (such asn itself). It is also shown that the age density,n(t, a), is completely known only if the birth rate,α(t), and the initial age distribution, β(a), are given as boundary conditions. In Section II the steady state solution and some plausible forms of intrinsic loss functions (depending ona only) are discussed in view of later applications.

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This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

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Trucco, E. Mathematical models for cellular systems the von Foerster equation. Part I. Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics 27, 285–304 (1965).

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