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Network Theory in Prebiotic Evolution

  • Sara Imari Walker
  • Cole Mathis
Chapter
Part of the Nucleic Acids and Molecular Biology book series (NUCLEIC, volume 35)

Abstract

One of the most challenging aspect of origins of life research is that we do not know precisely what life is. In recent years, the use of network theory has revolutionized our understanding of living systems by permitting a mathematical framework for understanding life as an emergent, collective property of many interacting entities. So far, complex systems science has seen little direct application to the origins of life, particularly in laboratory science. Yet, networks are important mathematical descriptors in cases where the structure of interactions matters more than counting individual component parts—precisely what we envision happens as matter transitions to life. Here, we review a few notable examples of the use of network theory in prebiotic evolution, and discuss the promise of systems approaches to origins of life. The end goal is to develop a statistical mechanics useful to origins of life—that is, one that deals with interactions of system components (rather than merely counting them) and is therefore equipped to model life as an emergent phenomena.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in ScienceArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.ASU-SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  4. 4.Blue Marble Space Institute for ScienceSeattleUSA
  5. 5.Department of PhysicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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