Clay biology document

May 12th, 2015
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CAN BIOLOGY LEAD TO NEW THEOREMS?BERND STURMFELSAbstract. This article argues for an affirmative answer to the question in thetitle. In future interactions between mathematics and biology, both fields willcontribute to each other, and, in particular, research in the life sciences willinspire new theorems in pure mathematics. This point is illustrated by asnapshot of four recent contributions from biology to geometry, combinatoricsand algebra.Much has been written about the importance of mathematics for research in thelife sciences in the 21st century. Universities are eager to start initiatives aimed atpromoting the interaction between the two fields, and the federally funded mathematics institutes (AIM, IMA, IPAM, MBI, MSRI, SAMSI) are outdoing each otherin offering programs and workshops at the interface of mathematics and the lifesciences. The Clay Mathematics Institute has had its share of such programs.For instance, in the summer of 2005, two leading experts, Charles Peskin and Simon Levin, served as Clay Senior Scholars in the Mathematical Biology programat the IAS/Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI), and in November 2005, LiorPachter, Seth Sullivant and the author organized a workshop on Algebraic Statisticsand Computational Biology at the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge.Yet, as these ubiquitous initiatives and programs unfold, many mathematiciansremain unconvinced, and some secretly hope that this biology fad will simply goaw

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