Institute of Mathematics for Industry


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(Pure) Mathematics and Microbial Communities: Beauty and the Beast?

Hold Date 2017-07-06 16:30~2017-07-06 17:30

Place IMI Auditorium (W1-D-413), West Zone 1, Ito campus, Kyushu University

Object person  

Speaker Robert Sinclair (Mathematical Biology Unit, OIST, Okinawa)

Date: Thursday, July 6, 2017
        16:00 - 16:30 (teatime in the Information Study Room(W1-A-812), 8F, West Zone 1)
        16:30 - 17:30 (IMI Auditorium W1-D-413)

Speaker: Robert Sinclair (Mathematical Biology Unit, OIST, Okinawa)

Title: (Pure) Mathematics and Microbial Communities: Beauty and the Beast?

Microbes do not always lend themselves to standard methods of analysis. In many cases, one obtains nothing more than the sequences of fragments of their DNA. Discrete mathematics, even branches not traditionally classified as applied, can contribute here to solving very practical questions, such as “Do these fragments belong together?” or even “Is Zika/SARS/MERS/Ebola virus related to something we already have drugs for?”. This leads further, to new approaches to discrete problems, which can readily be extended to digital image analysis, for example. One can also ask whether mathematics can contribute to understanding why so many microbes resist individual analysis, by considering metabolic closure in some microbial communities in terms of positive linear dependence. Does this give us new insight into fermentation? The central message of this talk is that the boundary between pure and applied mathematics tends to disappear as one approaches biology, and mathematics of all kinds has much to offer that can most certainly be of interest to industry.