The Origin of Life, Evolution, and Functional Organization

  • Wim Hordijk
  • Mike Steel
  • Stuart Kauffman


The idea that autocatalytic sets played an important role in the origin of life is not new. Neither is the idea that autocatalytic sets can tell us something about the evolution and functional organization of living systems. However, most of these ideas have, until recently, remained at a conceptual level, and very few concrete, mathematically sound, and practically applicable results had been achieved. In this chapter, we review and discuss recent results on a mathematical framework of autocatalytic sets that could take the idea out of the conceptual realm, and provide a formal and powerful way to investigate autocatalytic sets in the context of the origin of life, evolution, and functional organization.


Functional Organization Hasse Diagram Exponential Growth Rate Molecule Type Interdependent Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was partly funded by the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution (AWCMEE).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SmartAnalytiX.comLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Biomathematics Research CentreUniversity of Canterbury ChristchurchNew Zealand
  3. 3.University of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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